All day everyday we are driving. We travel so much as Assistants, and it's just something super foreign to me. But it's a cool experience, I get to reconnect with so many of my SACTM brothers that I didn't think I'd get to see again.
So, picking up from where we left off LAST week. I was in Port Elizabeth with Elder Branch. I went and got my first haircut from a Salon in 16 months! YAY! She supercharged me.. 86 Rand. Then on top of that, I am pretty sure I can give myself better haircuts than she did, but it's cool. I guess I need to get used to doing things the "American way" again. Psych, South Africa FOR LIFE!
We had a great little Family Home Evening with the Chimuti family (the friends of the Dube's) Monday night, and then said goodbye's to them. Gosh, it was like I had served there for three months... I was only there for three days... Mama was wanting to hug me and say how much they will miss me and how they want the family to come visit them. Such darling people. I really love them and appreciate how these people can just accept someone in the family that quickly and miss them so terribly when they are gone. Something I think we can all strive to be better at, Christlike LOVE.
Then we drove over to Kwanobuhle on Tuesday the 27th of October. - Three days before my birthday. I went on Exchanges with Elder Nienaber who is from Johannesburg, South Africa. We had a good day and were able to teach a ton of lessons together. We really bonded and had a great exchange. We totally just hit up lessons with a powerful mormon message, had them share what they felt, then said something profound and ended the lesson. It just left the investigators and members sitting there with their mouths open just totally feeling the spirit. It was great. I also found a guy named Sinethemba, and took a picture with him and Mr Tall, AKA E. Neinaber, that Elder Bohn - one of my mission buddies - had baptized. So cool. It's such a small world.
While there I was also able to reconnect with Elder Matini. My Samoan companion that I LOVED working with while I was in East London.
Then on Wednesday, the 28th of October, we were working with the Kwano Zone Leaders in their area. It started with us up on a roof painting... it took almost three hours to get HALF of it done. And the project ended with sunburns for the mlungu's (white guys), and a cut from a rusty nail while jumping off the roof for Elder Oswald. So we all had to run to the hospital to make sure he was all good. We ended up waiting in line at the hospital for another three hours. Yeahh, we did our fair share of missionary work while there, but we were sad we had to miss some appointments. I took a selfie in the nasty bathroom there at the hospital. It's a must see.
But in continuation of Wednesday, I finished up the day with Elder Mwanza who is from Zambia. Such an incredible missionary. He was previously a Jehovah's Witness, but then was converted at the age of 18. He continued and finished school, then was disowned by his parents when he came on mission. He has such ROCK SOLID faith, and has seen miracles as the Lord has softened the hearts of his parents. We taught some great lessons and ended with a lesson with Tata Vena. Who was previously a Methodist pastor. We took a picture together in his house then one of him holding the picture of his baptism. Such a sweet and powerful old guy. He told us how he had met President and Sister Merrill at a stake conference and just kept saying, "Elder, I made him laugh!" It was so sweet to see how he could recognize, love and respect President Merrill as a Priesthood man.
Thursday was good. We went to Cleary Estate to work with some Elders. Elder Monyo - From Tanzania, and Elder Thulari - from Mphumalanga, SA. There is a place there called Salt Lake, it's a little township, we took a picture over there and saw a mosque. So it was like the salt lake temple. We got a kick out of that. I loved working with and teaching with Elder Thulari. We taught a less active guy named Jamie and found out he had been drinking and fell back into drugs so was ashamed to go to church. We invited him to repent, he asked me to give him a blessing and it was such a powerful experience. HE felt the spirit and was crying. He said, "I know that blessing was from God, because you couldn't have know that I needed to hear what you said." Powerful. Then we took pictures at the Dixon's house. Such sweet people.
Friday - MY BIRTHDAY - we had a district meeting in Port Elizabeth again, then we hit the road. I got a cake from the Senior couple, the Pershings and got to drive all day. So nothing too exciting. It was beautiful to see so much more of the mission on the drive from PE to East London. When we got there we went to Mama Priscilla's home and saw some member there. I was able to have baptized mama Priscilla almost 8 months ago, and now her daughter is baptized as well and mama is a RS instructor. Then I ended my birthday off at the Humans... THE BEST people ever. I love them.
Saturday we drove with President and Sister Merrill to Mthatha to visit the branch out there. It was fun to drive with them and talk a bit. Anyway, when we got up there I was able to go on splits with Elder Pope - a previous companion from East London. Wow, that was SO awesome. We taught a bunch together, and tracted for days... just like old times. The cool part was when he stopped me and said, "Elder Thayne, I am sorry I didn't really open up to you when we were together. I learned a lot from you, more than just about anyone else. Well, uhh... yeahh, I love you man." Probably one of the coolest things he has said to me. It really made my day and I was able to hug him goodbye feeling like we both really helped each other.
Sunday the branch President, President Boatang, was surprised to see me again, he thought I had gone home. And he was so stoked to see that President Merrill was at church! He was telling me, "Ahh man, I wish I knew President was coming, then I would have had him teach or give a talk or something!" I just told him, "Don't worry about it, use President for whatever you need!" Preisthood meeting rolls around and the Branch President stands up and says, "Brethren, we have our mission president here for the first time and it is such an honor. We will now pay attention and listen to the spirit as he instructs us." President just looks over, and I winked at him. It caught him by surprise, but of course, he knocked it out of the park.
Then we had the long drive back after church and the senior couple, the Stapley's who rented a place for us to stay while in EL, fed us Fijita's. It was great. I love Mexican food.
I don't have time to say much more, but I do want to share my testimony. This is God's work. I have seen it bless SO many different people. It has brought greater purpose and happiness in my own life. I have LOVED my mission, and after this experience, my mission will never stop.
I love you all. If any of you would like, please write my companion Elder Martey. He has no family or friends who write him, and I think it would give him a real firstname.lastname@example.org