Monday, December 19, 2011

Week one in the field = CHECK

Area - Sunnyside, Pretoria
Companion - Elder Jenkinson
Letter #7

PRETORIA— Week one is a great success!! :D  We got three new investigators and a few more potentials and are gonna teach them all this week! It's pretty crazy how much there is to do here even though it's supposed to be one of the more dead areas. 

Yes i can play soccer on pday! duh! ha but probs not today. we might play basketball with some of the other elders nearby. We actually play soccer every morning for exercise ;) cause Elder Jenkinson has a futsol ball. I shall make good use of grandmas gift, no worries :D I got food for the week for 17 bucks! We do have dinner at a members house almost everyday this month, but still, that's cheap! It's scary though cause it is 160 somthin Rand. Didn't get the package yet but if I get it in January it's all good cause then I get to have an extended Christmas! party on christmas and get stuff later :D but it's not about getting stuff right? Remember that this Christmas! 'm gonna wait to send you guys some cool stuff from here till I actually find something cool. Not likely to happen in this area since it's all industrialized. Wow! jealous I couldn't be there for dad's bday! Sounds way fun. I've heard there is a place nearby where we can ride elephants so maybe you guys will drive fast cars and I will ride an elephant on the same day. The food here is soooooo good! LOVE IT. haha. Lots of rice, chicken, beef, beans, and vegetables. And the fruit juice is prime. We had a vegetarian meal the other day and that is one of the recipes I need to go back and get (especially for Dad). They have this stuff here called pup (don't know how to spell it) and it looks like potatoes, tastes kinda like rice, and has the texture of.... uhh... couscous packed together super tight so that you could pick it up and throw it like a baseball. Put some Chutney on that and your dinner is golden. The apartment is 100 times better than a week ago but we havent got to the bathrooms yet....  ish (what you say here when you dont like it) so nasty. Think of it as camping? no way! Have you ever camped in a pig stye? sp.?  k it's not that bad but the problem is getting stuff out, not, not letting stuff in. This is backwards camping. ha. but I don't have it bad compared to some other flats in the mission and especially compared to some other missions where they dont even have flats. 

Sophie: hmmm I WANT to get Ollie a parrott but I dunno if  i'll be able to.  WOOOOO!!! you're  getting baptized!!! :D Wish I could be there!  Maybe I will baptize someone on the same day ;) We are having a baptismal service for hopefully 8+ people on January 29 or 22 :D

Ollie: I'm having lots of fun on my mission! There are a lot of poor people but not too many in the place i'm in. Lots of people live in bad houses but inside they have lots of stuff and drive BMW's ha. People like to live together in these areas called townships instead of in nice houses cause if they have a nice house they have to have a huge death fence around it. There is still water here just not as much so we can't waste it. It hasnt rained yet but it is supposed to soon. I think it will be warm but I dunno. And there will be some huge thunderstorms :D 

Nate: Have fun surfing on that new board!! Lucky you! I am having more fun here ;) haha. Go shred those waves for me and say hi back to all those peeps. Shaka brah. You goin to the temple every week??? you'll get a candy bar if you do! 

Dad:  ha no worries I wasn't sayin you should write multiple times i just thought it was funny. I don't think I'd have time to read everything! one of my friends would get questions from his mom like what should we eat for dinner today? haha.  glad your bday was so fun!! can't wait to have my 25th birthday too! Seems like you had lotsa fun ;) We will not be able to skype this time :/ What we have to do is I will call you with our cell phone so you have the number and then you call back and we talk. Bummer cause then you gotta pay which is lame but nobody has skype around here let alone a computer that new. And remember I am 10 hours ahead. So it will be in the morning for you and evening for me. Hahah nice she will love them!! 

BISHOP:  Everyone here thinks I look more sophisticated WITHOUT my glasses on. haha just thought I should let ya know. 

So this week has been fantastic!! Learning so much its crazy! I just kinda naturally get better at teaching and talking to people through all the study and practice and recall stuff we do. there is a thing called the twelve week prgram where we study everything we did in the MTC AGAIN. ha. So we have 2 hour companion study in the morning instead of just one hour.  It does not feel like 2 hours though.  We have taught many people already but we have also showed up to many houses and the people are not there. We did some contacting on the street the other day and it was pretty fun! At frist I was scared but I got pretty good at it and even got a few numbers who we are going to call tomorrow and set up some appointments.  Tracting is fun but it sucks at the same time cause of all the stupid fences. Not very efficient to go tracting here.  2 days ago I lost my glasses out in the bush (yes we were kinda in the bush, at least I took the pictures so it seemed like we were ha) and couldn't find them forever! i was prayin and seraching and paryin more and serching more and then finally I said "Well I guess we gotta go to the next appointment" then I looked down in UTER DESPAIR and there were my glasses!!! say whaa?? haha it was a miracle. The other miracle of the week is that We found a lot of people and invited them to go to church from contacting on the street and tracting and none of them showed up BUT because we worked hard all week and were obedient to the rules there were 4 people that randomly showed up at church! One guy had a Book of Momrmon and was answering questions in class like he had been a member forever! Crazy! We are visiting him tomorrow.  

That's the update and I have a couple ideas for sending pictures. 1. make a CD every six weeks and send it and 2. Send the memory card when I run out of space and 3 (which is what i'm probs gonna do) start attaching photos next time like 5 or 6 and still sending a CD every six weeks.  :D

I love you all tons and its so good to hear from you every week!! Have a wondaful chrsitmas and can't wait to talk to ya on Sunday!  

- Elder Dirkmaat

AHHH! one more thing... STUPID MOMENT of the week.  we went to a Rwandan families house for dinner the other night and I know the history of Rwanda so I'm not as dumb as this sounds but I guess I didn't realize that maybe they moved during that time... So i asked " Did you move from Rwanda?" and they were like "uhh kinda"  and they told us about it and were fine with it but I felt soooo dumb! i also felt really bad for all that they had to go through. terrible stuff.  K now I have my dumb moment out of the way i'm ready to be a great missionary! haha  lates

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pictures from the MTC

 Me with my MTC companion Elder Bregg
Me with my Mission President Craig Omer and his wife

South Africa Missionary Training Center
 South Africa Johannesburg Temple
 Me with Elder Balmforth

 South Africa MTC Missionaries

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My First Area!!

Area - Sunnyside, Pretoria
Companion - Elder Jenkinson
Letter #6

PRETORIA— So I'm in my first area now which is called Sunnyside! It covers downtown Pretoria and a lot of the suburbs. It's the 2nd biggest area in the mission. The church address is 480 Leyds st Pretoria South Africa. Put it on the map!! haha. I Just got here yesterday and since my companion didn't get to email on p-day, which is Monday out in the field, I get to e-mail right now. I now have 1 hr and 15 mins to e-mail so I won't be so rushed this time. 

My new companions name is Elder Jenkinson and he is from a city north of Newcastle in England. He has been out for three months and will be my trainer for the next three months. I am probably going to end up being here for about 6 months. He's a cool guy and we both play soccer! :D

They say that this is a tough area but it is also a great area to start off in. Sweet deal! ha. Last night we had a lesson with a guy that lived way out in the boonies in a little shack it was pretty crazy. He actually wasn't there but his member friend and another guy were there who we taught about the restoration. He should be at church on Sunday. After that lesson we went to a members house for dinner. Remember how I said I hadn't seen anything that looked good yet? Well, I now have some things to report! haha. The houses look terrible from the outside but when you get inside they are really really nice. The members we went to last night actually had a maid that was cooking dinner. Their nephew is staying with them for a while and we convinced him to come to church and to turn in his mission papers soon! He is 19 in April. They were an awesome family and the dad is a returned missionary. 

Another thing that is nice is that Pretoria is like 100 times safer/nicer/better than Joburg ha. Still not great but so much better. It still feels a lot like America for some reason though. Very similar but so different at the same time. And the other thing that I want to say that is good about South Africa is that everybody is so much friendlier than in the US!!!! oh my good golly gosh! Everybody says hi, or actually sharp (pronounced shop with a long "O"). When I got to go out with the missionaries on Saturday right after my last e-mail he told me that they like to go sharp shooting. They say it to everyone they can no matter where or how far away the person is and they get points if the person says it back, which is like 100% of the time. 

So the flat that we are living in is absolutely disgusting and may be the reason that I come home. It's so dirty and nasty, I barely forced myself to get in the shower this morning...  We are cleaning on Monday but I kinda want to just hire a cleaning crew to work all weekend! 

Today we have already taught one lesson to an 18 year old guy named Omega. It's hard to teach him cause he learns very slowly but he wants to do everything that we are asking even before we ask him. He will be at church on Sunday also. Haven't done too much yet but its not even been 24 hours ha. I have been driving all day today which is scary but I think I'm already used to it :D  Just a professional, what can I say? But, people are crazy here! Worse than Utah drivers combined times 50!!! That's right... I said Utah drivers :P ha but jk.  We drove to the store to get some food to last me till Monday, then to Omega's place and now to the internet shop place thing. Everywhere we go is far away cause of how big the area is and it's gonna take a while to know where I am going. 

So I've only gotten one letter so far via Thanks Alisha! haha  A reply is coming, no worries ha. Everybody else: I wanna hear from you so write me some letters!! Please? Just in case the address is wrong that I already put up it is supposed to be Elder blah blah blah   South Africa Johannesburg Mission   Private bag X4   Ansfrere, 1711   South Africa   That is for any letter or package sent bu U.S. mail.  If it's a package from liek UPS or somethin then check my blog. And wow family, you guys already got my letter?? That's cool, I guess the mail is faster than 2 weeks then. Thanks for what you said Dad, you da bayst! I'm glad you got to go to the funeral for great-grandma and have such a great experience despite the circumstances :D  

I guess that's all for now. I shall hear from you and tell ya whats up on Monday! I hope you are all doing well and excited for Christmas in less that 2 weeks!! 

Love you all!
-Elder Robert B. Dirkmaat

P.S. I sent a letter to Sara but I sent it to our home address cause I forgot to acquire addresses before I left and wasnt sure if it would make it there before she left Rexburg. So could you send it to her?  Don't open it!! :P haha 

P.P.S Apparently you guys don't keep me updated as much as some others parents. Some of the elders were getting like 3 emails a day from parents! haha Just a funny not sayin you have to do anything different. 

P.P.P.S  You can put this email address:  in the letters and packages page on the blog cause ANYBODY is allowed to send an e-mail. E-mail to family is my priority though! ;)

P.P.P.P.S Not sure when I'm gonna be able to send pictures yet. I'll probs have more time to figure that out on Monday.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Life in the MTC

Area - Johannesburg MTC
Companion - Elder Bregg
Letter #5

JOHANNESBURG— I just wrote you guys an e-mail yesterday and I just wanted to be able to describe things to you better since I don't get lots of time.  You don't have to send a letter back but I just wanted to send ou guys one :D  This will probably end up getting to you around Christmas time or Dad's b-day so...

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!  I hope you have a SUPER FUN TIME!  Lookin forward to calling/possibly skyping! ;) 


HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!  Hope you have a super awesome day.  Wish I could give you a present but go listen to the song "Watchin' You" by Rodney Atkins.  If it's not by Rodney Atkins, no worries cause it's on my itunes on my computer.  Hope ya like it! :D

So I've already told you some things but just wanted to describe the MTC experience a little better.  It's really fun & they have a really great program for learning how to teach.  We are all divided into districts.  I'm in the Moroni District w/ Elders Bregg, Howard, Jallah, Miller, Goodwin, Sparks, Wiltse, Hansen, Parsons, Speakman.  Howard & Jallah are the district leaders.  In order how I listed them, here is where they are from:  San Diego, Arizona, Liberia, Vermont, Australia, Utah, Canada, Utah, Arizona, Arizona.  We are all friends & get along real well.

We are super busy all day every day.  Wake up at 6:30, actually we wake up naturally like 5:30..., and then start classes right after breakfast.  Our morning teacher is Brother Reader.  He is from Joburg, went on his mission to Durban & got back a few months ago.  We usually have a lesson & then we each take turns teaching as companionships.  We started from the very first contact and his name is Quintine.  We are going into the third lesson tomorrow.  After lunch we study then have sport time.  Then we have dinner.  After dinner our night time teacher is Brother Mokolobate.  He is the smallest 24 year old ever!  He won't let us catch a picture of him either. :\  I will get one though!  After he teaches us, he acts as an investigator also.  His name is Elton Ncube.  The "c" in Ncube is a click & sounds kind of like when you call a horse.  We are progressing with him really well & "will be at church today."

They feed us so much food here!  I think I eat at least 3 times as much food here than I ever did at home or ever.  Sorry Sara, we are running 3 half marathons when I get back.  It's weird too, I was excited I wasn't going to the south (in America) cause I wouldn't have to eat tons of potatoes.  Guess what, we have had mashed potatoes every day & some other form of potatoes at a different meal every day.  Why??  It's all good though, I actually like them a lot now.  The reason being that I never ate them with so many different kinds of sauces.  Straight pototoes, nasty!  Potatoes with sauce, yummy!  Ha. 

We just barely watched a movie called Pioneers of Africa that was produced in 2003 by BYU-TV.  It was really good and I suggest y'all go watch it.  It is a documentary but it's way good.  Go watch it!  It's so amazing how strong the testimonies & faith of the members (actually not even members) of Africa was.  Some had to wait 14 years to be baptized!  It truly is humbling to be teaching the gospel to a people that are so much more humble than myself.

Oh, I should probs tell you about the MTC Pres. & all the other leaders.  Pres. Christensen is awesome.  He's from St. George & possibly grew up in Richfield (not sure I still need to confirm).  He's really funny & also very spiritual at the same time.   Kind of a tough guy too.  Like grandpa.  His wife is so nice and always has a smile.  Pres. tells us we will all be lucky to find someone like her.  HaHa.  The MTC manager is Brother Mocke (pronounced Mockey).  He is fun & always has a riddle or game to play.  They are mind games and take multiple days to figure out sometimes.  Also, he is super competitive!  You should see him playing ping pong against Brother Reader!  It's like the Wimbleton of table tennis HaHa.  The cooks are always happy.  I can't remember their names but they are good cooks!  I gotta tell you now just in case I forget in my e-mails like I have the past 2 weeks.  I met Elder Balmforth.  He's the one who Sister Burrel told me about when she found my blog.  We are pals! :D  Also, I met TJ's friend who is in TJ's ward.  Forgot his name of course but yeah, I met him too! HaHa.

So I have a challenge for all temple recommend holders.  Go to the temple at least once a week.  It will bless your life so much and the lives of others!  I miss going as often as I did at home.  Truly an amazing place.  If you go once a week till I get back, I'll give you a South African candy bar.  Just let me know before I leave!  Ha.

I love and miss you all so much!  Good thing I've got some pictures! :D  Which reminds me, send pics of what your doing!  I can look at them with my e-mail.  Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, & Happy Birthday!!!

-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Its the Last Days... of the MTC

Area - Johannesburg MTC
Companion - Elder Bregg
Letter #4

JOHANNESBURG— Sounds like you're havin fun getting ready for Christmas! I'm gonna miss being home for Christmas so much but good thing I brouhgt a ton of Christmas music with me! We've been listening to Christmas music everyday this week. Love it!  Dang, sad to hear about Grandma Hermina but she's sure feelin better than she was here! :D Thanks for the monay grandma!! :D ps how much do I have in checking? cause I've used my card a bit since we don't get money till we are out of the MTC.  Those are some cool ornaments that grandma got! I have a bit of bad news though. It's not very likely that I will be seeing those types of animals ha. The Johannesburg missionaries tell us that they haven't seen any animals in the wild since we are mostly in city areas. But who knows maybe I will! We took a little branch of a pine tree here and put it in a cup and made our own christmas tree. It looks like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. it's awesome. We all have been becoming such great friends and have a lot of fun together.

This week has been a big testimony building week for me and it was so great! The first couple days I got a cold so that was kinda lame and could barely stay awake during the day. Still have the sniffles but no worries. We have had so many lessons that helped me figure out the questions I've been having about how I can teach better and be more succesful and it really is an answer to my prayers cause I think all my questions have been answered. The key to everyting is just knowing the lessons and the Book of Mormon and teaching what you know. Simple really but intimidating at first. It's always tough to think of questions you can ask to find out more about an investigator but if I am just trying to be their friend and help them see the light that I have found they open up so much!  I have written so many things and there is so much to remember but eventually I will have it all down once I get out in the field... ON TUESDAY!... and start practicing and putting it to real use. The "investigators" we teach here are progressing well and both want to be baptized so I guess Elder Bregg and I are doing well! :D  One of the really great spiritual experiences we had was when our district all decided to share each others conversion stories or why we came on a mission and not only did it help me realize things about my testimony that I didn't know by sharing it but it also helped us become closer to each other and understand what other missionaries are like. One of them said we now know each other past the skin or somethin like that. It's crazy how the more you share your testimony the stronger it becomes and the more you realize the importance of certain things that happened in your life. Also Elder Goodwin (the australian) asked a few questions of me that I had never thought of before about my life and even that helped me realize things. In case you're wondering, my "conversion" or #1 reason is families. They really are the greatest and most wonderful thing ever, I love you family! It's amazing to me that we can have these families that love us so much and help us and have such close relationships with that we get to live with for eternity and not only that but we get to choose a companion to be with us foreever and ever and make our own family so that we all become one big happy family for eternity!

Today we get to go out on splits with the missonaries that are already out in the field throughout the Joburg city area.  Last week the other half went and they had a great experience so I can't wait!  Last night we had TRC's again where we teach members who are acting like investigators.  I don't know why I am always so scared even after we say a prayer!  Once they show up and we start talking and teaching it's so easy and we have fun doing it.  Afterwards everybody is so happy and we are telling each other how our lessons went but before we are just nervous to the max!  I know it's because of prayer and the Holy Ghost being with us that we are able to teach with such ease and know what to say.  With the Spirit and prayer anything is possible ;)

A couple days ago we had our first big thunderstorm!  Crazy!  They told us that it was nothing compared to how loud it can get.... sketch! ha.  It was way fun though, thunderstorms are my favorite. Yesterday we had our first summer rain and it was freezing!  I was expecting a warm rain or somethin but it felt like the coldest winter day in San Diego.  Apparently it snows here in Johannesburg during the winter too. Who's the one that told me the weather here was just like San Diego???

I shall attempt to answer those questions from last week. I didn't have time to write them down last time but this time I do :D

-YES save the cheesecake!!! haha jk.  I wish
-Yes grandparents can email and actually friends can email me too. I can't guarantee a reply to a friends email since I barely have time to finsh these emails but they can email so you can post this email address to my blog?
-Depends where I go if I get a car, bike or walk but its usually a car and if not then its a bike.
-Yes any music as long as it invites the spirit and doesn't have any romantic overtones or whatever ha.
I think I have already answered the other questions and I also sent you guys a letter describing more about the MTC so you should get it in like a week haha.

 I love you guys and can't wait to hear from you next week!!

Elder Dirkmaat :D

ps. I guess I should have asked last week but tell Sara thanks for the letter! :D and I'm bummed I didn't get it before I left haha but I was wondering if you could send it to me anyway?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

One Week Down!

Area - Johannesburg MTC
Companion - Elder Bregg
Letter #3

JOHANNESBURG— Wow, it seems like months ago that I left because of all the stuff I'm learning and all the experiences I'm having even though it's only been 1 week! We got to go to the temple this week on Tuesday and that was an awesome experience. Here's what I wrote in my journal (yes, I am writing in a journal EVERY DAY): "Oh my goodness, I absolutely love going to the temple! It was really cool to go to a temple in a different country and the amazing thing about this church is that it is the same no matter where in the world you are. On the way there, driving, to the temple we drove through the actual city of Johannesburg and it was so eye opening. It was the first time we really got to be exposed to the country of South Africa besides going to the market last saturday just around the corner. In johannesburg there are fences with dangerous sharp stuff around EVERY building no matter what. This fence looks like it is made for killing intruders... Sketch! The whole time I've been in the MTC I never really felt like it was a different country because we were in our little bubble with all the Utah kids ha. South Africa is outta control compared to America (the parts that I've been to ha) There are people everywhere dodging cars living on the streets. I've never seen so many people around areas where there isn't really much good going on. I have not seen anything nice looking really except for the MTC and the Temple. After going through the city and seeing all the craziness, getting onto the temple grounds was so peaceful and relaxing. The beauty and contrast it had to the rest of the area was so pleasing. When I got into the temple it was even so much better. All the outside noises were gone and all I could do was think about happy things and just be at peace. It is amazing to me that you can be halfway around the world and still be able to find a place like home. That's why I think the temple makes us feel so good is because we are that much closer to being back to our TRUE home with God."
We did this thing called TRC last night where they bring ward memebers to be investigators but we don't know if they are investigators or not. We had to teach two 30 min lessons and they went so well! We could really feel the spirit and the feedback we got afterwards was very positive. They told the MTC thast usually it's negative feedback the first week but we all did really well. I know that it was beacuse of all the preparation we have done and all the paryers we have said to have the spirit with us to know what to say. It was a really fun experience despite how scared we were sitting there waiting for the "investigator" to show up!
I have a ton of pictures but we are not allowed to upload them with these computers. I dont know why. I will be able to once I get into the field though. I'm gonna write down all those questions and then write all the answers down this week so that I can answer them next time. I will answer the ones that I remember right now though.
 Elder Breggs will be companion until we leave the MTC.  I dont know where I go until the day of transfers(next monday).  We mostly use cars and maybe bikes in a couple areas. Grandparents can email they are family right? ;)  I'll probably just reply in one email with them copied though.  I only get 30 minutes per saturday to emial and that is reallly tough. Kinda lame since I have all the rest of the day to do whatever and that means I can write letters with more time. Oh well I got more in this time! :D 
 I've only written one letter and sent it today and then I got a dear elder thing from my friend Alisha, one of Sara's roommates. That was nice of her and great to hear from her :D She's always really positve and happy.
Dang, it sounds like you guys are having a great time with all these changes! haha. I'm glad you are and I wish I could be there. But, I think my wish to be here is also good. Thaks for emailing lots, Iove you guys! :D
 My times out bye! ha