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

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