Monday, September 28, 2015

Imbinjani icaweni? -- How was church?

First of all, I do want you all to know I HAVE read the White Hand Book (Missionary rules/guidelines basically) once or twice, so I am aware of the whole - "Do not proselyte at or near the houses of worship of other faiths." But I think we are onto something. And no, we were not proselyting or handing out anything.

So while we were talking with our Ward Mission Leader this week he was talking about how he really feels that we need to get the name of our church out there by building positive relationships with other churches and local congregations. I shared with him something that we had started doing while out in Queestown, it was called the "Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy Initiative." It had to do with home teaching and stuff like that. But our bishop was really working hard and building relationships with the members of the Methodist church and getting our name out there in a really positive way. So as I shared about that our Ward Mission Leader looked like a kid on Christmas Day. His eyes got all big and he just kept saying, "THIS is what we need to get our ward going! They need to start living their faith so others can see!" So basically he gave us a charge to go to other churches and start reaching out to the Pastors there. 

Elder Martinez and I really took it to heart. We went and got details from the Trinity Presbyterian Church of South Africa and told them our bishop and ward council would love to get in touch with them and planned some inter-faith activities. Then we went over to the Catholic church. We spent a good 45 minutes talking to two Monks. Brother Richard and Brother Gavin. Both have taken on them an oath and are serving God completely til they die. It was pretty inspiring. We just knocked on the door, told them who we were and where we came from and said we wanted to start bringing the Christian community together. We used the tactic of curiosity. We just asked all about them, what they do and what they believe and were very honest about what we admired. Then after us saying nothing, they just started asking all about why we are here and what we do. They were very impressed and grateful. They even said they want to get our bishop, or maybe the stake president, to become part of a council that is held with like all the major Christian Churches in Cape Town about the issues of today and what not. It was really amazing to start building that friendship. So now we are like best buds with two monks from the Catholic Church. Too sick.

Then last of all we went to a church called "Connect Church." Not really sure who from their marketing team came up with that name, but it's fine. We went to the church and got to know the Pastor pretty well after the service. He talked with us for a good 15-20 minutes asking about our beliefs and he had a lot of questions about us Mormons. I think we really blew his mind when it comes to what us Mormons actually believe and how we try to live. He was really impressed and grateful that we were there and just wanting to reach out to other Christian churches and build that relationship. He asked for our contacts and said he wants to get in touch with our Bishop and do some service activities and things like that. These churches are all within a two or three minute drive from our chapel. So I really think that these relationships can blossom into blessing a lot of people.

It was SO good for me, and I think the whole district of missionaries, to just go and see how others are doing their best to live their faith.  Yes, there were some huge differences with the whole singing and dancing and what not, but they are really trying to grow closer to our Heavenly Father and live in a way that He would have them live. I really learned a lot and received a witness of Gods love for all of His children, and I think several churches received a witness yesterday that Mormons really must be Christians too.

Also as a side-note, we had a little fireside right after church yesterday. We basically had our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Michael Tonkin, speak and share a quote from Elder Bednar's talk "Ask in Faith" and then get them all pumped. One by one we just went up and bore our testimonies on specific subjects. Afterword everyone was so excited. Many came up to us, wiping away tears asking us when we could come to their homes. Our bishop, this is the first time he had ever said more than "hi elder" to me, afterword said, "Elder, I love what was shared. I really think you guys are ready for this. Can you still come over tomorrow night so we can make this plan and really focus on the less actives? As you were all sharing I really started to have people come to mind that I KNOW are suffering outside of this gospel. They need to come back." - Wow. The spirit really worked on him and many others. We had another sister walk up to Elder Martinez and I saying that there was a friend that she hasn't thought about in YEARS that came to her mind over and over as we were talking and she asked if we could reach out to her and teach her. 

The Lord is making it happen. It wasn't the smoothest of weeks, but I feel that we are laying a foundation for a great work in the future.

Here is that Elder Bednar quote. I think it is really something important that all of us can start to think about. 

"I long have been impressed with the truth that meaningful prayer requires both holy communication and consecrated work. Blessings require some effort on our part before we can obtain them, and prayer, as “a form of work, … is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings” (Bible Dictionary, “Prayer,” 753). We press forward and persevere in the consecrated work of prayer, after we say “amen,” by acting upon the things we have expressed to Heavenly Father.

Asking in faith requires honesty, effort, commitment, and persistence. Let me provide an illustration of what I mean and extend to you an invitation.

We properly pray for the safety and success of the full-time missionaries throughout the world. And a common element in many of our prayers is a request that the missionaries will be led to individuals and families who are prepared to receive the message of the Restoration. But ultimately it is my responsibility and your responsibility to find people for the missionaries to teach. Missionaries are full-time teachers; you and I are full-time finders. And you and I as lifelong missionaries should not be praying for the full-time missionaries to do our work!

If you and I would truly pray and ask in faith, as did Joseph Smith—if we would pray with the expectation to act and not just to express—then the work of proclaiming the gospel would move forward in a remarkable way. Such a prayer of faith might include some of the following elements:

• Thanking Heavenly Father for the doctrines and ordinances of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, which bring hope and happiness into our lives.

• Asking for courage and boldness to open our mouths and share the gospel with our family and friends.

• Entreating Heavenly Father to help us identify individuals and families who will be receptive to our invitation to be taught by the missionaries in our homes.

• Pledging to do our part this day and this week and petitioning for help to overcome anxiety, fear, and hesitation.

• Seeking for the gift of discernment— for eyes to see and ears to hear missionary opportunities as they occur.

• Praying fervently for the strength to act as we know we should.
Gratitude would be expressed, and other blessings might be requested in such a prayer, which would be closed in the name of the Savior. And then the consecrated work of that prayer would continue and increase.

This same pattern of holy communication and consecrated work can be applied in our prayers for the poor and the needy, for the sick and the afflicted, for family members and friends who are struggling, and for those who are not attending Church meetings.

I testify that prayer becomes meaningful as we ask in faith and act. I invite all of us to pray in faith about our divinely given mandate to proclaim the gospel. As we do so, I promise doors will open and we will be blessed to recognize and act upon the opportunities that will be provided."

I know that this is ALL of our work. We are not here to force our belief on others. Rather, we are here to invite all to come unto Christ. I know that as all of you not only pray for my success, or others success in missionary work, but pray for and get on your feet and work to have your own success in missionary work, the Lord will openly and abundantly bless you in your efforts. 

Brendon Neilson, my friend back home, just played a big part in baptizing a British rapper. Someone who had never even thought God existed. But as he lovingly and continuously invited her and lived his faith, she saw the fruits of living the gospel and she made the change.

I love you all so much. The is God's work. Yeahh, the weeks here are hard, and the days are long, but the reward is worth ever effort.


Mdala Mitchell Ryan Thayne

    And a picture at an FHE with the Dobbins where they gave us a cake for Elder Martinez' and Elder Manqele's birthday.

I sent a selfie just in case you missed me. Since many may have not, well that's alright. Here is a selfie of me being a dweeb anyway.

Then that was us outside of the NICEST house I have been to in a long time. A family, the Knightons, who are originally from Idaho invited us over for Heritage Day and we had a real great Braai.

Elder Labrum from our own Lehi North Stake
Then some pictures of us lookin down, Elder labrum, Elder Muller, Elder Manqele and myself at our own braai.

With President and Sister Merrill

Cape Flats Zone

And a picture at an FHE with the Dobbins where they gave us a cake for Elder Martinez' and Elder Manqele's birthday.

A picture by the ocean.

A white girl named Stacey that Elder Radebe and I started teaching. Then she moved to East London and just got baptized by one of my best friends Elder Prisbrey. So awesome. He is doing great work.

Sunday, September 27, 2015



This week has been a slower, but more productive in actually building the area. We counselled as a District on how we can really build the ward and build the areas so they will continue to do great things, even after we leave. Because I know many missionaries can fall into the whole: Come into an area, crank it, get some people to church, baptize them, then leave and there isn't too much else going on. We talked about how we are here to strengthen and change the ward, then the baptisms and everything else will come. We have a great ward mission leader who is SO excited about this member missionary work and is always asking for our instruction and thoughts. He is very involved which is amazing. We are going to start working in a part of the other elders area. They just have too much ground to cover and too many members, so we are taking the Muizenburg portion of their area so we can all really start laying the foundation for member missionary work with ALL of the families, rather than just a few.

This week I went on exchanges with Elder Muller and it was VERY good for both of us. We were able to talk a lot together about what we can do better. I think last transfer was a real learning experience for him and he really wants to do and be good. I am very impressed by him and his willingness to work and is adaptability in the lessons. He has a solid foundation and really is excited about the work. It's always nice to be with a missionary who knows what he is doing. It makes the work just fly by. We got to teach some sweet people. One of the families was the Anohene family. I will include a picture or two of us at their house.

Things with Elder Martinez and I are going well. I think the Lord is humbling us a bit. I have noticed he was very excited about the rapid success we were having, and he started voicing it to every elder and member he could, despite my cautioning.. So now, he is learning the lesson of "those who seek after the praise of men, have their reward" sort of deal. It's all good, most people need to learn that the most important recognition we should seek after, is the recognition of the Lord.

Things are great. Nothing too crazy or out of this world to tell you. I am just really happy about the work and life.

As I have been steadily approaching the end of my mission, I have really just been trying to stay focused. I don't want to become the, "Ohh no, I need to just frantically give it my all because I feel like I need to make up for something" sort of missionary. My homie, Brendon Nielson, talked to me about that. I just want to keep working hard and keep loving it because I love the Lord, I love the missionaries, I love the people and I love the gospel. It's been the greatest and the most life-changing experience of my life. This whole coming home thing... TOTALLY BLOWS! I feel similar to the way I had felt when the time was ticking down til I left home to come out here. Just excited, but feeling a bit sick to my stomach thinking about how it'll be so long till I see these wonderful people that I love again, you know? So yeahh, it is really hard. Any advice on that? How to prepare for home? I am going to get thrown back into Babylon and everything that comes with it. I want to be ready and not just totally out of my game when I do.

I found this quote this week:

"As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought that I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better." 

Can I get an amen? Hallelujah. 

I always thought that I know how my life is supposed to go. I felt that I was the master of my fate. I realize now that was a foolish and narrow minded way to think. And yes, to a point I might be in control of my life, but ultimately my fate/destiny is something so much greater and so much more powerful than I could even comprehend. I think that is how it is for most of us. We see only a VERY small part of our full potential. We just need to realize that there is someone who see's us not just for who we are, or who we were, but who we WILL be as we draw near to Him. 2 Nephi 2:24 - Preaches it.

The Lord, as of late, has really been redirecting my life. He really has been changing my thoughts and feelings towards what I want to accomplish, become and give to others in my life. I think Heavenly Father is teaching me to trust Him. These past two years He has been using me as a tool to help others redirect and change their lives towards a greater and more eternal destiny. God IS changing lives, and He is letting me be a part of it, because he wants me to KNOW that I can trust him my own. He desires that I can reach the level of trust where I can turn my life over and know that he is also going to lead me to something better and greater than I can do on my own. Proverbs has it right. "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

So my message is, STOP THINKING YOU CAN DO IT WITHOUT HIM. You can't, I can't, We can't. He is the way to unlocking our true potential. He is the way to find true happiness. He is the only way.


Mdala Mitchell Ryan Thayne

With Elder Muller

P Day Activity

Hiking Table Mountain

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"Today I don't feel like doing anything...I just wanna lay in my bed." Bruno Mars

I am so tired.

This week has been unreal. Elder Martinez and I really hit the ground running. We both want what's best for these people, so we just keep pushing each other to lay it all on the line, every day. He, of course, is always there to help encourage and uplift me when I am needing it, and I try to do the same. We have just been trying to make the most of every hour. We teach our progressing investigators, meet with members (less active and active), follow up referrals and then make every effort to find and teach more people. The Lord see's the effort and blesses us.

We were really going hard this week, and I think the favorite thing Elder Martinez has ever said to me was, "I am actually physically exhausted. President at the beginning of my mission told me that I would feel like this some days, but I never felt this until now." Then I asked him how he felt about it though. He just smiled and said, "It's awesome." So we really are loving our time together, even though we are both SO dang tired at the end of the day. 

I think that is our one struggle with obedience. We are so tired in the morning, the alarm goes off at 6:30 AM and we both just lay there, staring at each other, just waiting for the other to make the first move.. Ten minutes later or so one of us just groans, falls to our knees and starts praying. After that we go about the regular morning schedule. That is probably our biggest struggle though, we are so tired! It's a good feeling though.

The other elders in the District are really doing great. Elder Manqele, is just as loving and sweet as ever. Elder Muller was telling me that he was probably his hardest working companion... Over Elder Mmusi (Who was one dang hardworking son of a gun)! Which was really awesome to hear. They have been putting forth every effort and their area really is cranking out a lot of lessons which DID not happen last transfer.. The elders really are trying, and I am seeing how God is blessing us. Even some of the other elders when they see us, ask how things are going. I just sit there smiling and listen to Elder Martinez say how much he is loving the area and how he wants to stay with me and be in Grassy Park for six months... Now who on earth would say that!? Grassy Park? Six months? A month ago if we heard that we would be wondering what that elder did wrong to have President punish him with such an area for so long.

It's legit being a district leader again! Not as much responsibility, so I can just focus on the work and focus on helping these elders be the best they can be. President Monson says, “There is no dividing line between our prosperity and our neighbor’s wretchedness. ‘Love thy neighbor’ is more than a divine truth. It is a pattern for perfection. This truth inspires the familiar charge, ‘Go forth to serve.’  Try as some of us may, we cannot escape the influence our lives have upon the lives of others. Ours is the opportunity to build, to lift, to inspire, and indeed to lead. The New Testament teaches that it is impossible to take a right attitude toward Christ without taking an unselfish attitude toward men.” - I believe that. Life is just about the relationships, the rest is just details. We are here to serve.

I don't know what more to say. The work is moving forward. We found and have taught several other wonderful people. We are just trying to wake the members up and get them involved. I do realize though that we have to just be patient, but persistent with them. So in time. Our biggest challenge I think is getting people to church. So family, please pray for the Lord to help us with that.

I don't really have any crazy stories this week. Last week we DID see the family whose son was killed. We taught them and they just cried and cried, but felt comforted after the lesson.

Well, love you guys!

At Fish Hoek

Penguins in Africa, LEGIT!

Brother Mike... Mom and Dad, you WILL meet him when we come out here. :]

Chocolate Orange

With Elder Labrum from good old Lehi Utah North Stake

A bunch of us on top of Devil's Peak this morning

Monday, September 7, 2015

Picture this: Kodak Moment

I received an early call from President Merrill two weeks back, which usually means one of two things: Either I am getting some special leadership assignment, or I am going somewhere rough and he wants to give me some counsel on what's up.

I was getting so sick of all the negative comments Elders were making about the dead area of Grassy Park. Everyone, even a previous AP, was saying, "Wow, I would rather be out in banishment for the rest of my mission than to get sent there! That totally blows!" They'd laugh and ask what I did wrong to be stepped down from being a Zone Leader in Queenstown to being a District Leader in Grassy Park. They really knew how to build a guy's faith.

I remember our first day (Wednesday) together, Elder Martinez sat down and said, "To be honest, we don't really have anything going on. So I am not sure how you think we should go about this.." I assured him it's all good and we can start to make something happen now. He told me how everyone always just told him this was a bad area. Even the attitudes of the missionaries serving here was that of negativity and them expecting no success.  He then got really excited as we started speaking of some of the miracles that we both have seen throughout our mission. As he reflected on how the Lord helped him in his last area, he got to the point where he was asking, "So then why wouldn't God help us here?" - Counsel does work. So we just talked, set some goals and decided just to go and get after it.

Thursday we set some goals and made some plans for the less actives and trying to involve the members. We felt that we needed to find a teaching pool, so we just went out and started testing the promises of God. Of course, we saw miracle after miracle! Elder Martinez said, "Ahh! Why is this only happening now!? - Wait, I know. We are really working hard." Every day this week we found and taught two new father-led families. Now we have 8 that we are on the beginning stages of the lessons. Sometimes people think it takes a lot of time to build an area up... Nope, it takes about as long to build an area as it takes to say, "Heavenly Father, we are ready to give it everything. Will you help us?" And help us He did. 

One experience, out of many, was just on Saturday. We were finishing up doing some finding around a members house when we were about to get into the car I saw a Nigerian guy smoking, and I just felt the urge to ask him. "Hey! Do you want a Book about Jesus Christ?" He threw down his cigarette and jogged over. We started introducing the Book of Mormon to him, when a tall guy from the Congo ran up and said, "Elders! I have that book! Please come to my house now." - We kind of just looked at each other, saw the Nigerian guy walk off and we started following this mysterious three nephite sort of stud. So we followed him. We went into his house and he pulled out the Book of Mormon. He started telling us of how he was almost baptized in Jo-burg but he felt like he needed to come to Cape Town to stay with his wife and three kids and look for a job here. He said he has been looking for the church for the past three months now until he saw us start talking to that other guy. He was smiling so big and kept saying, "Ohh my brothers, God is looking out for us." So we taught him, he accepted baptism, said his wife will love to as well, and also said he wants his 8 year old son to be baptized as well. He should be coming to church this coming Sunday. We are so excited about him and his family. They want us to come every day, but our schedule is already filling up so fast that we can only see them two or three times a week! It's an awesome problem to have. 

Alma 26:37 comes to mind, "Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen."

All I know is that the Lord has made things happen here, SO FAST. I think he just saw our desire and is helping us in this work. Like we learn in Jacob 5:71 and 72, "And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end [of your mission] is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come. And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and THE LORD OF THE VINEYARD LABORED ALSO WITH THEM; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things."

I think that scripture says it all. The Lord is laboring alongside us family. Now, we hope to get the rest of the district and the members on board and I know this will be one of the most desired area's to be transferred to in the mission.

GOOD NEWS: I am now in Cape Town. Which means I will get mail MUCH sooner. So send it my way erryone.

Mdala Mitchell Ryan Thayne
South Africa Cape Town Mission
PO BOX 181, Observatory,
Cape Town, 7935
Republic of South Africa

Crazy Story: Elder Martinez and I were driving by Lavender Hills (don't be fooled by the pretty name, this place is as crazy as they come), and we saw a dead body of someone that had been shot. So we pulled over and saw people running back and forth. The cops had just shown up. We were just kind of like, "OHH DANG!" But we kept our cool and asked some people what had happened. I guess there is some major gang warfare going on here. One of the more well known/well established gangs out here are called The Americans. So yeahh, we had the thought come to us that we should ask the Policeman where the family was. So we got directed to where they were standing and crying. We spoke to the family and told them we have a message called the Plan of Salvation and would love to come share with them where their son is now. They, through their tears, accepted and asked us to come this Wednesday. Poor people. The gospel is the only thing that can help them.

Funny Story: I was walking by a police officer in Grassy Park and I was so sure he was a Xhosa guy. So I just went to greet him like I would any other Xhosa Buthi. "Yes Tata! How are you?" He just scowled and walked past saying, "I am not your tata, boy." Ouch! My soul. Haha whatever though. We are still laughing about it.

Here are just some pictures of me saying goodbye to the Ndabeni family for the last time. Probably one of the saddest goodbye's I have had to say. They all went around one by one in a circle telling me why they loved me and what our service had done for them. It killed me, but I loved it.

Then just a picture of President Merrill with some of us elders after Stake Conference yesterday. It was so powerful.

Love you!

Mdala Mitchell Ryan Thayne

Saying my goodbyes in Queenstown

Senzo and Linda, who just got married and he got baptized

My first area, Mdantsane

Stake Conference in Cape Town with President & Sister Merrill

Nearly a mission's worth of Missionary Planners