Monday, March 26, 2012

3 baptisms yesterday! More to come...

Area - Sunnyside, Pretoria
Companion - Elder Foote
Letter #20

PRETORIA— Good afternoon! :D Wow, last week not much happened but now all of a sudden an explosion of things are happening! haha. Good job doing all that missionary work family. I'm not the only one! In fact members do/should do most of the missionary work anyway! I'm excited to hear how everything turns out (the security guard, Lorinda, marathon-good luck! hahaha glad I'm not Dad, Nates job-jealous, flag football) That's really cool how people get inspirations to do things and when they act things turn out okay. Lots of times people get the inspirations and just blow them off. I'm guilty! ha. I've never gone wrong when following a God given inspiration no matter how scared I was. Ollie finally gets to play football!! Wooo! aha. That should be way fun. I think you should get him into rugby yeah? :D Football reminds me of a talk Elder Foote has on CD called life is a football game by Troy Dunn. You should check it out. And then listen to his talk about buddies. Way good even though it makes me miss being a kid like crazy.

I am so glad that I get to do missionary work. We had another successful week with 14 people attending church! Remember that Indian lady who loves the missionaries and has a testimony but she doesn't want to get baptized and she smokes? She finally came! Last week actually. Her son turned 12 and got the priesthood so she came to support him. We visited her and she told us all about her testimony again. After talking for a while she decided she would come to church again this week and she did! So we visited her last night and we were talking with her and she said that she is willing to be baptized at the end of next month. She says she knows she needs to but the only reason she wont is cause she is being lazy. We are going to read the Book of Mormon with her from start to finish in 52 days. The book of mormon manual is split into 52 for the weeks of the year and she says she wants to read one lesson a day. Should be exciting!

3 baptisms yesterday! :D :D Tracey, Botlhale and Fortune:
Tracey is a student at the Pretoria University. We met her an interesting way. She was getting counseling from some guy who is also a member so one day he brought her to church and he says to us "Tracey has a question for you" and she was way embarrassed and all that and she asked if we could teach her the lessons. Most of her family are members in Zimbabwe and her parents are in Pretoria East. She had a really rough teenage life and finally decided that she needed to make a change. We have been teaching her since mid/end of January and she has been ready for baptism for a couple weeks. She is friends with the YSA (young single adults) and comes to church every sunday since January. She even went to Stake conference which is a big expense for her to get transport to.

I guarantee none of you can pronounce Botlhale correctly haha. Her surname is even more difficult. She is also a student. She had most of the lessons in her home town from Elder McKnight like a year ago and then she moved here and went to church and everybody thought she was a member. We figured out she wasn't one day and started to teach her. She has a very strong testimony also. It was funny, last week she told the 2nd counselors wife she was going to be baptized soon and she goes "What, you're not a member??" I said, "See, we teach them well!"

Fortune is the wife of Clement who was baptized last month. Fortune was sick while we taught Clement half of the lessons so we had to teach her after he was baptized. Clement already has the priesthood but she didn't want him to baptize her. I think she was scared that he wouldn't do it right. Who knows. She is very shy but yesterday she was very smiley and outgoing and different. It was cool!

My favorite part of baptisms is always the singing. Everything about the baptisms is good but the singing is my favorite. Singing during sacrament meeting is always lame cause not everybody sings but during baptisms, man they sing! haha. I always get really happy and can't stop smiling when I look around.

We saw/met some interesting people this week. First off, we saw a guy laying in the middle of the sidewalk in the middle of the city and he was fast asleep. I didn't have my camera with me :( I wanted to poke him so bad but I was too scared. Next, we met this lady from Poland who has lived here for like 30 years. She told us that she has magical powers and can heal people and all this stuff. She said she didn't like going to church cause she was closer to God than any of the pastors and she had more power than them. She said she would visit our church...and then she actually did. She was talking to the bishop afterwards for like 20 mins. I dunno what she told him but she was happy when she left! Also, a member in the ward goes to one of those colleges in town. She goes to a bible study group after school and one day they all started praying in tongues and she got super uncomfortable of course. She told them that she didn't and that they shouldn't have been doing that and then bore her testimony. Then she called us and wanted us to come and explain things better and also to teach about the restoration. Man that was awkward at first but then it just kind of turned into them all asking us the questions that they've always had that they couldn't find answers to. We answered their questions and a few of them wanted us to come back and teach. One of them figured out that we are "mormon". Sometimes I hate that name so much. They are fine with everything you teach and agree with it but then when they realize we are mormon all of a sudden we lose all credibility. Is it true that...? what do you think about...? At least it was only that one guy. Evebyody else still likes us ha. Last interesting happening. We played soccer with the ward the other day which was super fun but also made me miss playing everyday ha. But then some other guys showed up so we were playing with them also. Eventually these guys had called all of their friends to come. It turned into the church guys vs the smelly alcoholic crazies with their shirts off and butt cracks showing. They were good at soccer but it's just lame to play against guys like that. At least we had fun for a while b4 the crazies showed up!
We are very excited for this month because it looks like we could have A LOT of baptisms this time! There are a couple families and a few other people that I will have to tell you about eventually. We told the Zone leaders we have a goal of three since they shamboced us last time but we really hope for like 10. shhhhhhh! If we are diligent and do everything right it is very possible!

Also, I need some shoes. Mine are destroyed of course ha. Could you send me my other pair of vans please? :D And anything else you see fit to send me ;) haha I like packages! You might be getting one in the next 2 months hopefully! ps. when you declare the value of the contents of the package you are allowed to underestimate the as much as you want :D

I hope you have another great week and good luck with everything! I love you all!

-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, March 19, 2012

Good Morning from South Africa!

Area  - Sunnyside, Pretoria
Companion - Elder Foote
Letter #19

PRETORIA— The sun is shining and it looks like some rain clouds are moving in. That means it won't be hot today but it will probs be boiling tomorrow. P-Day is gonna be great cause we found a Toys R Us. We already have Monday - Thursday filled with appointments. We are preparing for 3 baptisms this Sunday. What more could I ask for?? The missionary work is going so well and Elder Foote and I just work hard and have fun every day! ...Hello Sister Foote and family, I know you're reading this :) Thank you for the treats!

Last Sunday we had 13 investigators at church and this Sunday we had 15! I think this week I gained a testimony of inviting people to be baptized the first time we meet with them. They tell you in the MTC to extend the invitation at the end of the first lesson and all of us are like what? Heck no. But after putting it to practice, it yields results! You can explain for hours what your purpose is, which includes helping them take steps like baptism to come closer to Jesus Christ, but when you actually invite them at the end it finally clicks why we are here and that we are not just sharing the word of God with them and lifting their spirits or whatever. It's funny how 3 months ago I was petrified to ask somebody to be baptized and had no idea how to go about doing it even after I had been taught and practiced a bunch in the MTC and now I can do it completely comfortably and not freak out and not know what to say when they answer "no" or "I've already been baptized". Or even when they say "yes"! Haha. This week alone 10 people answered affirmatively :D

On Saturday we visited the Maake family and had a great lesson. The whole family wasn't there at first but they finally got back from shopping for the last 10 mins. Brother Maake is very interested and even went to the book shop the other day to see if he could buy a Book of Mormon! Of course he couldn't but I don't know why we hadn't given him one yet; he has one now ha. They came to church last week and enjoyed it "too much" but they had to go to a funeral yesterday which is one of the top 3 reasons why people can't make it to church here. The others would be I can't b/c I'm a pastor at my church...Everybody and their mom is a pastor here... or we are going to Joburg for the weekend. But this family isn't making excuses, no worries.

Man, Aida and her family are so difficult for us to teach. They want to be baptized but they can't until we have taught them everything! We bring a translator with us but it's hard for 2 reasons 1. There are only like 2 or 3 people in the ward that we know of who speak either Portuguese or Changani. 2. teaching with a translator is painfully slow. We decided that we are going to try to get 2 RM's to teach them and we will just sit in the lessons with them. It's weird when they teach and then the family answers or asks questions, you can tell what they are talking about and if they understand or not it's just that you don't recognize a single word unless they use an English word that's not in their language. They have a Book of Mormon in Portuguese and they are reading it and they have come to church a lot so the only thing is making sure they know everything.

I am so glad that we are having such great success here and it truly is amazing to see all of these people each week and have the chance to teach them the Gospel. I know that Heavenly Father is preparing these people for us and all we are doing is being obedient so that we can be in tune with the spirit to find these people and say the things that they need to hear. I have had so many experiences where I just know what to say and don't have to think about it at all. Scriptures, quotes, experiences, will come to mind and I have no idea how I remembered these things. Of course it's the spirit helping me. One day we were teaching a guy and I asked him something like "Who is God to you?" He answered for the next like 5 mins at least just saying all this stuff about my king, creator, etc. After he got done I said something along the lines of "yeah that's right. God does all this, created all that and we need to give the respect and honor that he deserves but plainly and simply He is our father and He loves us." That touched his heart. I explained how everybody knows the greatness of Him and the authority He has but most people don't realize that we can have a personal relationship with Him. He is there for us always listening to our prayers and answering them, guiding us in our lives, protecting us, etc. We can talk to Him as if he were standing right in front of and tell Him everything we are grateful and happy for, everything that we are having problems with, and we can ask for His help to improve and overcome challenges. We need to be respectful and honorable to Him but we also can and need to be personal with Him. I am so thankful that I have a relationship with my Heavenly Father and everyday I try to make it better. You should too! :D

Mom, I'm jealous you got to teach the primary kids! I used to be scared to teach lessons at church but now I would do anything to be a primary or youth teacher! It is so fun! I got to teach the 16 year olds the other day. I had no preparation, just walked into class, was handed the lesson and had to teach! Ha.

That's cool that the Fords got to speak about their conversion. Funny, I was there at that first lesson. Ha. Of course I didn't say anything but I do remember that very well :D

So I printed some pictures that I am going to try and send soon and maybe I will take some this week and hopefully send them via email.

Love you family! Smile big always and have a great week!

-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, March 12, 2012

How's it wena?

Area - Sunnyside, Pretoria
Companion - Elder Foote
Letter #18

PRETORIA— Gas is $4.50 a gallon?? man, I guess it's close here. R10.30 a liter. Not exactly sure what the conversion is... Dad, you can't get a lame prius though cause then I can't tell people about the sweet truck my dad has! ha. Wish I could be skating with you guys! But I showed a kid how to ollie on the skateboard the other day in my missionary attire. I will be honest, I think it's against mission rules to ride skateboards :/

Yes we did have transfers and so I have a new companion! His name is Elder Foote and he is from Reno, Nevada. He has been out 9 months and this is his 3rd area. We are having a great time and are already super good friends. I was expecting to get a black companion since that's how most companionships are unless you are training but I got Elder Foote which was surprising ha. I think that we are going to do some good missionary work together and we are going to be able to have fun at the same time. I'm excited.

Every transfer meeting there is a musical performance of some kind by whoever wants to and so Elder Clarke (zone leader last transfer, currently in Utah and probably already proposed to his gf) did a cool thing. One guy started with one o those shaker things (yes my vocabulary is terrible) and then C man started his beat on the djembe and then 2 guys started playing the guitar and then 2 other guys started singing. They did the song Armies of Helaman or whatever it is called but you should check to see if it got posted to Youtube by parents some time this week cause it was super cool!
This week, because we had to go to Joburg for transfers we had to limit our k's that we used on the car the rest of the week so we just stayed in Pretoria central and walked everywhere which I have never done before. I felt like a missionary from The Best Two Years since they are in the city too. It was cool just saying hi to everyone and talking to so many people. Usually in the past we would just drive everywhere but I say forget that! Elder Foote is fun to be around cause of how happy he is and his ability to talk to people and be friendly. I was always scared and never really got the chance yet but now I enjoy it, and talking to people on the street, no matter who it is, is just fun. Nothin better than having fun doing missionary work!
 The other day we were at a street corner and some guy behind us says "hey do you get high??" Of course we said no and he kept asking us random questions along the lines of that one and he just couldn't believe it. "You're from California and you don't do drugs??" He was just a regular teenager. Well he was probs like 24 cause I always think they are younger than they really are. I always think the blacks are younger than they are and they always think I'm older than I am. One time a guy thought I was 26! Anyway, it's just crazy how normal these things are and you can't be normal unless you smoke, drink, whatever. I'm glad I know better.

Another event from the week. There is a lady, Aida, that has come to church a few times with her kids and she has been wanting us to come teach her. Uno problemo. She only speaks Portuguese and some other African language so we haven't been able to teach her. A guy who speaks her language moved into our ward last week so we set up a time to go see her on weds. Sfiso helped us by translating and then he just got carried away and taught her stuff since he was a missionary before ha. So we didn't do too much talking. We were able to teach a little bit about God and Jesus Christ and also about prayer and then we gave her a chapter to read in the portuguese Book of Mormon that she already had. The next time we went her husband was home but Sfiso couldn't come and so we had to go without him. It was pretty difficult but the good thing was that if we gave her something to read she always understands it very well. Her husband can speak ok english and so he could kind of translate. It's weird having to have a translator and I kind of know what it must be like to be greenie in a mission where you have to speak a diff language! ha. They are a good family though, three grown up kids who are members in a diff ward and three more kids at home all under 10 yrs.

I have had a super week and I'm glad that I got Elder Foote as my new companion. We will have a great time together! I honestly had more fun as a missionary this week than I have the whole time. Not fun like doing things that we are not allowed just making the best of every situation, laughing about things, putting smiles on others faces and teaching the gospel by the spirit!

Love you family and I hope that you have another fantastic week! So much is happening there and it sounds realy exciting from this end! I hope my e-mails sound like I am having a good time as well. Cause I am! ha.

Oh, and nope I don't know Dave's pals but they could be in the Pretoria East ward.

-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, March 5, 2012

Another Good Week!

Area - Sunnyside, Pretoria
Companion - Elder Jenkinson
Letter #17

PRETORIA— FAMILY! How are you? Cause I am doing great. :D Sounds like you had another great week. How do you have so much fun stuff happening AFTER I leave?? ha. No worries though cause I'm glad you are.

Sophie: yes, I teach a lot of people about the church! That's what my job is! :D 10 - 9 every day! ha. The only thing about teaching people is that they don't all understand/want to understand. We do our best to help them though!

Tomorrow is transfers and I'm getting a new companion!!! Scary/exciting! Elder Jenkinson was worried all week about whether or not he would be staying here in Sunnyside or getting transferred. He's been here 6 months so it's understandable. I am not going to be training so no pressure ha. This week has been a good week. Didn't get to teach as much as we could have due to some ditched appointments and also companero wanting to say good bye to a lot of people. We still had some good lessons though. I am definitely improving so much and teaching people is not too scary anymore. I think I say that every week but whatever. The 3 that got baptized last week got lucky and got assigned to home teachers that actually do their home teaching so we got to introduce them this week :D

2 pictures a week??? man that's tough but okay I will try to. The computers are slow so it's difficult but I'll do my best. Not this week though cause I didn't bring my camera cord :/

Well, my mind is completely blank right now and I'm almost out of time so I better go but I hope that you all have a great week and keep doing fun things! Love you all :D

-Elder Dirkmaat :D