Monday, January 30, 2012

Loving the People

Area - Sunnyside, Pretoria
Companion - Elder Jenkinson
Letter #12
PRETORIA— Greetings from South Africa!

 First I want to apolize for not sending pictures yet. We have been having some crazy busy P-days lately and so I keep forgetting to bring my camera with me! I might print some off and send them in a letter if I keep forgettting in the future. But I promise you will get some soon! I have some good ones! :D

Good job with all those wedding photos mom! Wish I could have been there to help you out! That would have been fun to get to go to all those places.
Dad, always coming up with new environmental cheap ways of doiong things, I like it. You gotta teach me how to make this stove thing so that just in case I'm caught out in the bush in one of my areas I'll be able to have some warm food!
I'm sorry to hear about Nate getting hurt again.  Has he been able to play a single game this season?? Also, I heard from Sara that Nate got accepted to BYU-Idaho! Congrats! Thanks for tellin me family! :P haha jk. That's cool though, when does he start?
Oh no Ollie has a big knife... That's awesome. I heard one of the missionaries here used to carry around a machete when they walked around their area. hahaha. He never got robbed so I guess it worked!
Tell Sister Poppleton congratulations! She will do great as a missionary there! :D 
Wooo for Sophie! That's gonna be a great experience for her! At our baptism on Sunday there was also a little girl that got baptized along with Pinky and Bernard. She just turned 8 so her family was there.

The baptism was really nice and kinda funny too. Bernard wanted Elder Jenkinson to baptize him, so he just did both of them since he had to borrow my pants, and Bernard is a big guy! Pinky went first and she is not on the light side either. She was almost dropped and I dunno how Elder Jenkinson brought her back up. I even got splashed in the face! haha. Then Bernard went and he weighs even more so he went under prety fast too so I got splashed again and then my companion couldn't bring him up at first so Bernard was trying to help himself back up by bouncing on one leg trying to get his balance. Ahhh it was so funny to watch BUT they did have a spiritual experience and were very happy afterwards.

This week has been a really great week. Our numbers were a tiny bit lower this time but it was okay cause we still had some really great lessons and found some new people to teach. We got a call one morning from a guy named Samuel. He said some other missionaries used to teach him and that he was now ready to come and be baptized! We went to his home and found out that he is a secretary at his church but he is not happy and doesnt like it. He will do all it takes to be able to worship with us. His wife and 4 kids just moved in with him since they had still been in Nigeria while the other missionaries were teaching him so this is a new father led family for us and it looks very promising! We have still only tracted about 4 hours total in my 7 weeks here cause of people like this that just keep popping up. Pretty much we don't have time to find cause we have so many lessons that we have to teach each week. (can you believe I have been gone for more than 2 months already??? Went by so fast!)

This week I have been really trying to focus on loving the people. I would have to say it is one of the most difficult things for me especially since I'm not really a talker. I feel like if I can have sincere genuine love for everybody especially the people we are teaching then everything else will come easier.  Talking to people, thinking about how to help them best, remembering facts about them, asking questions to understand them better, etc. I really want to be a missionary like all the ones in the Book of Mormon, Alma, Nephi, Sons of Mosiah, all those guys. When they see wickedness they are grieved in their hearts and ask the Lord to stop all the wickedness and support them to be able to help bring the truth to the poeple. I am excited to do this work and I want to help other people come unto Christ and receive salvation but in order to be fully committed love is the key. So just fyi that's my goal for the next little while haha.

I love you guys and thank you for all the support! :D

-Elder Dirkmaat

Monday, January 23, 2012

Lions, Rhinos & Ostriches, Oh My!

Area - Sunnyside, Pretoria
Companion - Elder Jenkinson
Letter #11

PRETORIA— Sorry to hear about all the sickness! Es no bueno. I hope everyone will be well soon. If it's any consolation I've had ringworm for three weeks cause I'm an idiot and thought it was just a weird mosquito bite. But, I figured it out today and in three more weeks time it will be gone :D

Woo!! Sophia is 8!! And she's gonna get baptized! :D HAPPY BIRTHDAY SOPHIE!!! Can't wait to get the announcement!

Good job with the Book of Mormon! That's awesome! Elder Jenkinson has set a goal to read the Bible and Book of Mormon in the next 6 weeks. That's 50 pages a day. He's doin well so far. My goal is just for starters to read the Book of Mormon in the next six weeks.

This week has been another great week. It is the end of my first transfer so now there are going to be some changes that start happening. We figured out that we have almost doubled the amount of lessons taught and new investigators etc per 6 weeks since Elder Jenkinson first came here in september so that was good news! We don't get to go to transfer meeting since we are not being transfered tomorrow but one of the elders in our district is gonna get a new missonary to train and the elder that is leaving is going to be a district leader, opening a new area, and training a new missionary. That's heavy responsibility! This sunday we are having a baptism for our nigerian, chicken feet eating friend, Bernard and for our golden investigator, Pinky. It should be really good and we and the ward are excited!

This month we have been out to eat with other missionaroes a lot which is bad when you only get so much $ a month ha. So this week I have been creating new things to eat and they are actually super good! For breakfast: corn flakes with peanut butter and jelly all mixed together. So much better than milk! For lunch: Make some tuna and eat it with your tortilla chips like chips and salsa. For Dinner: A chicken nugget sandwich with chutney on it. If you dont know what  chutney is, look it up and find some cause it is good and I know you can get it in America, just ask Sister McCune! ;D

So today we went to see some more wild animals. This time we got to drive amongst the lions, rhinos, ostriches etc. We had a lion within 2 feet of our car! It was one of the coolest things ever and who needs the Wild Animal Park when you can have this for only $12 US! Also, I got bit by a lion so there is some risk... No worries though, it was just a cub. We got to go wrestle with the cubs for 5 mins for only 3 dollars. It bit me right on the belly (probs the only meaty place it could bite me) and held on good. It hurt, but it was so worth it!

Yeah, so pretty much missionary work is getting a lot more normal for me and I am really enjoying it! I am starting to talk to people a lot easier and I'm getting used to making friendships. I am pretty comfortable most of the time and when I'm not it's definitely cause the spirit is not as strong. Hopefully in six weeks I'll be ready to be a trainer! :D

Love you family and keep on keeping me updated!

Elder Robert B. Dirkmaat

Monday, January 16, 2012

More Success & Some Wild Animals!

Area - Sunnyside, Pretoria
Companion - Elder Jenkinson
Letter #10

PRETORIA— Elder Dirkmaat here with the weekly report! :D  I am so jealous that you guys are going to all these musicals and I don't get to! Just when I was starting to kinda like them too ha. I hope that CATS was super good and that you had lots of fun! Jim Snow is second counselor eh?? Now all these stories about his taser etc are gonna have to end with "oh and he's in our bishopric!" hahah.  Good luck with gyming program! There is a guy in our ward who is a bodybuilder so he's been giving me some tips ;D We shall see who can win an arm wrestle when I get back. I apologize in advance.  Thanks for the words of wisdom Dad! I will do my best to take heed. It's tough but great rewards only come from hard work! Cant wait to get some letters from you mom! :)

This week has been pretty fantastic but also kind of a bummer at the same time. We have continued teaching many lessons and have been able to feel the spirit strongly in most of them. And even though I am still a terrible teacher, I am improving :D  We met a couple new father led families again and are going to follow up with them this week and also the ones we met last week we have been able to get second appointments with like 2 off them. It's been great!

I don't know if I told you about one of the ladies we teach. She has been seeing the missionaries for three years and her whole family are members. She has a very strong testimony and knows more about the church than most of the members in the ward but she still won't be baptized! Well, we have been able to become better friends with her and through conversation etc she has finally opened up a lot and I think she cold finally be baptized in the next couple months as long as we don't mess up with her. She goes back ten steps for every small mistake (in her eyes) a missionary makes so we just have to make sure we dont offend her or pretty much be dumb teenagers like she says some missionaries in the past have been.

We have a golden opportunity! Another family we are teaching found out that they are married but in a traditional way which is also acceptable and so now they are going to be able to be baptized as soon as his wife attends church, since she has been sick. He has also been able to get some money (he was unemployed) and so he can now support himself somewhat making him able to get transport to church and for his wife. I dont know why i told you all that but yeah, now he is close to baptism as well! So despite all the good things happening of course there are bad things. A couple families we have been teaching, we are scared that they are only in it for the welfare since they only come to the last hour of church and then meet with the bishop and come out with food stamps and this sunday they started bringing friends :/ They also never remember anything from the lessons we teach them so we are going to have to dig deep and find out how much testimony they have and try to help them understand what we are teaching.

Thats kind of how the work has been going, especially with all the good families we have and that our stats are improving every week.  It has been super hot this week though! I'm not really sure what it is since it's all in celsiusso I have no idea what it means but it's been hot. Random rain and thunderstorms too! They are so crazy. You thought Utah thunder storms were loud???

Today for pday we had a zone activity so we went to a members home who lives out in the bush. We got to do a scenic hike to the top of a mountain and on the way we got to see some baboons!! They were makin crazy noises and climbing all over the cliff side, it was so cool!  Then afterwards we had a braai which is the same thing as a bbq but "much better" ha since they only do big meat stuff and not wimpy hot dogs and hamburgers. So we had some steaks and sausages as big as my arm haha.  THEN after that we went to a place called chameleon village where they sell all sorts of cool stuff and you have to barter for it. I bought two sweet shirts handmade and all that for R210.  He originally wanted to sell them one for R200!!  Score! ha

This week has been great and next week will be the end of transfer one! Already! 6 more weeks and I get a new companero.

Well I ope you are well this week and don't get into any trouble!
Love ya!
Elder Deekmaat (as the africans pronounce it)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Chicken Butt!

Area - Sunnyside, Pretoria
Companion - Elder Jenkinson
Letter #9

PRETORIA— 12-14ft surf??? That's huge! I wish I could have been there. Why does all the crazy surf and weather happen after I leave man? I heard that it hasn't snowed in Utah yet. Wow, I'm sorry to hear about Nate. Is his foot broken or just hurt? It seems like every Alumni game there is, one of the guys that is "really good" hurts one of the players. But that guy got done by Nate! haha that's why he tripped him.

YMCA eh? I dunno if ripped parents is on the list of things I want to have in my life. Dad, you can be ripped but mom, you're only allowed to stay in shape k? I'm on a 2 year program btw. Work out for 20 minutes every morning, you won't believe your eyes when I come back!

Man, so this week we had record stats for the area for the past...long time. We taught 10 father led families! Most of the people we are teaching are doing well. I said on the phone that I thought we could baptize every person we had on date but the main reason that we can't is that we have so many people to teach during the week.  We can't even see everyone in one week if we went to teach each person for an hour. There are just too many people! But, we are concentrating on a few of them and I think we could possibly have 4 baptisms on the 29th. I had my first baptisms yesterday! There is a family in the ward but one of their daughters wasn't baptized yet. She is 11 years old and has had the lessons before so we re-taught her everything and she was able to be ready yesterday. Even though she's only 11, she is a convert and will be a good addition to the ward, especially since that family is now complete. This week has been so good because of all the lessons we have taught but also because we have been showing up to teach people and they have read what we asked plus more and are telling us the stuff is true before we can even ask them if they believe it. We end up explaining at the end of the lesson that even though they believe it, they still need to pray to receive confirmation. One lady said she is ready for baptism and so we had to explain that there are still things we need to teach etc. She has been to church for a month straight so far. The first 2 times I thought she was a member. We have also got at least 5 new investigastors every week so far and we got 8 this week! God is blessing us so much and I can feel his spirit with us so much as we are talking to these people. Obedience and commitment are the key!

Oh, I ate chicken gizzard at this Nigerian families place. SUPA NASTY! Nigerians have really spicy food as well. oh oh and guess what!?......... (i ate) CHICKEN BUTT! I have never taken a bite of meat and found out I was holding the spine and then turned it around to find out I had to eat whatever was on the other side...

Well thats my week for ya! It's been great! and keeps gettin better every day! :D

Love you guys!

Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, January 2, 2012

It's 2012!! Happy New Year!

Area - Sunnyside, Pretoria
Companion - Elder Jenkinson
Letter #8

PRETORIA— Hey hey how goes it in the New Year? :D Man, sounds like you are having tons of fun with all the new stuff and the parties... Party Animals! Since when do you guys go to parties this much? haha.

My new years was pretty good too. The only thing I regret was staying up till midnight... We had some other missionaries over at our flat so we had 10 missionaries in one place! we weren't allowed to go out on New Years Eve or Day so we were just hangin out for 2 days ha. We put cars on either end of the complex parking lot and turned on the lights so we could play soccer for a couple hours that night. Besides that we just sat around and talked, played games(we have a game of risk to be continued later hopefully ha) and ate candy and listened to music. New Years day we just went to church and then back to the flat to hang out some more ha. It was really weird to have nothing to do. Its just our once a year rest for the year. We'll be workin' like crazy starting tonight at 6 till New years eve next year! ha. I am officially coming home next year! ps. its 11:11 make a wish. Apparently it goes crazy here during new years but since our flat is kinda far away from everything and we arent allowed to go out we didnt get to see anything. I hope the flashing lights we saw was actually lightning like we thought... 

This week has been pretty good even though we had less days to work. We still got to teach a lot of people and we are still getting new people to teach. The only finding(tracting and contacting) we've done was like 2 weeks ago, we tracted for a couple hours and contacted for an hour. Other than that people have been showing up/being there when we go to teach somebody else, so we have just been going to appointment after appointment every day. One appointment we went to we parked farther than we thought so we had to walk a ways and then it started raining pretty good. We showed up soaking after climbing 9 flights of stairs and walkin' like a mile or 2! ha. One god/bad thing about the city being part of our area is that we have a bunch of people that live miles from the ground but its a good thing cause even though we have a car we still get our exercise in somehow :D  

I have of course been learning lots and I'm getting better at teaching lessons, asking questions and all that. I realize more and more every time we go to teach that it's the spirit that teaches and we are just there to help them feel the spirit and hear the words that they need to hear. 100% of the time that I am a successful teacher is when things just come to mind that I have learned for myself. Sometimes you ask questions or say something and yes, you knew what you were saying because you had learned about it yourself but it's the spirit telling you what to say. It's tough to explain but I guess you could say the spirit triggers your memory and it's up to you to act on the thought that you have. When you do, everything goes so smoothly and perfectly. When you don't, you kinda feel bad and are constantly thinking man, I should have said that. A little before I left someone in a class said to help you get better at acting on and listening to the spirit just do everything you feel like you should do. As you do that eventually you will be able to recognize whats of the spirit and whats not and also you will just naturally act on your promptings from the spirit. If you are prompted to do something and that thing is good then it is from the spirit. Theres a scripture that I am referring to here but I dont remember what it is right now. But it's in the Book of Mormon! So find it! Don't be worried about whether or not you should say or do something, if it's a good thing, just say or do it. I know that when you act on the promptings you have you will be blessed to have the spirit with you more often and in greater abundance. People will recognize it as well and you will be an example to them. I have been able to tell the difference so much from acting on my promptings. All you have to do is trust in the Lord and he will direct thy paths for good. Doubt not, fear not. 

Yeah for Preacher Bob. ha. Im so grateful to be here out on mission in South Africa! When I am teaching people and they understand the things and feel the spirit it makes me feel so good. You can see it in someone when they really do feel the spirit and want to learn more. The other day were teaching a lady and her brother and sister. We were teaching about the restoration and we thought that they were understanding it pretty well but we would still periodically ask if they had any questions and finally they asked. Once we were able to answer that question it led to other questions and I felt like they truly understood because they were more involved and talking more instead of giving really short answers to questions we would ask them. One of them said he couldn't speak english very well but towards the end of the lesson he was talking almost prefect english. Obviously that was his excuse but he definitely opened up because he was feeling the spirit and wanted to learn more. 

The other day we went on exchanges so I got to go out with the district leader Elder Ncgobo (where the c is a click) and we had a great time. We found tons of families while tracting and also got to teach a few scheduled lessons. His area is a township so that's an area where they have terrible looking houses but way nice inside (sometimes not nice but) There are always tons of kids and people all over the place it's such a great place to be a missionary! All the kids freak out when they see a white guy so they all come running over to say hi and stuff and then the adults and teenagers freak out when they find out im from California ha. So I got to take some pictures with the kids it was cool! Kids always think I am married cause I have my CTR ring on ha so I get to explain what it is a lot and I decided to buy some CTR rings when we went to the temple 3 days ago. Im gonna give them to the kids that get baptized so I gave one to a 9 year old in my ward that we teach once a week named Elvis. He got baptized a couple months ago. He's been wearing it everyday cause I saw him at church! haha. 

Well time is short but HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! WOOOO! 
Love you guys!

Elder Bobby Dirkmaat :D