Monday, April 30, 2012

Viva Botswana!

Area - Kanye, Botswana
Companion - Elder Holman
Letter #25

Botswana is grrreat! :D Being in a village is waaaay different but such a great experience. There are donkeys, cows, dogs and chickens all over the place just walking around freely its funny. I have already almost hit some cows and donkeys while driving from here to Gaborone and even we saw some baboons crossing the highway!  I really am having a great time here though. The people are really nice and I am excited to start to get to teach lots. There is one difficulty in teaching here though. If the baby gets hungry the momma provides....Right in front of you while you are reciting Joseph Smith's first vision...subprime. It's awkward and all you can do is look up, keep teaching and as long as you don't make it awkward it's not, right? I'll devise a way to politely ask the mommas to put it away. It's a weird situation here cause Elder Holman just got here 2 weeks ago so he had been in Kanye 4 days before I got here. Then his companion Elder Zuma got kicked out which is why I had to come. Elder Maybe was Zuma's companion before Holman and Maybe was only here for 6 weeks. Because of all the changes there are not many people we have to teach so we are almost opening an area. The village is pretty big though and would take a few hours to walk from one side to the other. There is a branch here of i'm not sure how many but there were like 40 at church on sunday. We share the area with the zone leaders so half the days we walk and the other half we drive. There have only been missionaries here for 2.5 yrs. We have been tracting for most of our time so far and have a few return appts this week which should be good! Nobody we talked to came to church though. When we tell people directions or ask members how to get places it's always turn right at the oak tree and take a left at the orange house then its the one with some boulders out front cause they don't have street names. It's crazy! So the chapel is just off the main road in Kanye. There is a gas station right next to a shopping strip and then the chapel is in a building called CEDA just 1 km up the side road from the gas station. 

This should be a good week though compared to last week cause we had to spend more than half of 2 days in Gaborone trying to register for residency. Right now I am only allowed to be in the country for 90 days since I got here. Some missionaries get residency and others don't so if I don't I'll be back in SA by the end of 3 months ha but if i do then I'll be here for a loooong time. There are three zones in Bots. 2 for Gaborone area and one for Francistown. There are only like 40 missionaries and i think 10 are sisters. We live in a house in the middle of the village and it's pretty big. The living room is as big as my old flat! Elder Holman is the district leader and he is from Panguitch, Utah and yes, Provo mtc. I dunno why they went there. Some go to Provo and others go to Joburg mtc but I dont know why. Yes, there is a Seventh Day Adventist hospital and it is the most popular church here. Yep, too dangerous for sisters to be in South Africa especially after a few incidents which ultimately caused them to be taken out.

We have one family that we are working on to be baptized in May, the Molebatsi family. The father used to be a boxer, he is huge!!! They have 2 kids, the oldest is 4. They have been being taught for almost 6 months which i am actually glad about. I've been in the mindset of just teaching everything and when they have learned then they are baptized. Let me tell you, that is NOT the way to do it. Sure they have learned it and they accept everything so maybe you think they have a testimony, obviously that's not enough. I hope as we teach the Molebatsi's that we can get them past that point so that they truly will be converted. It's tough to have people wait to be baptized when your leaders are constantly asking "how many are you baptizing this month?" and the investigator could pass a baptismal interview just cause they know what the answers to the questions are. I'm really trying to get more in tune with the spirit so that I can know if somebody really can be baptized after only a month of teaching them or if we need to work with them more. It's not just wooo! I got a baptism, it's yes, I helped somebody see the light of the gospel and helped them make covenants with God so that they can progress towards eternal life with God after baptism. Baptism is opening the door and if they are not converted they'll just walk right back out the door and into another. There are so many things that go into helping someone stay active and progress which happens after the missionaries but we are the ones that are responsible for giving them their firm foundation.

Well it sounds like both our weeks have been full of great things! I love you family! Have another great week!

-Elder Dirkmaat

Monday, April 23, 2012

Who needs transition time? Straight from the city to the village!

Area - Kanye, Botswana
Companion - Elder Holman
Letter #24

KANYE— Family how are you?? :D You sound great like always!

So I'm lucky I got to e-mail today cause I'm in Botswana! ha. Elder Foote and I were praying that I wouldn't get transferred last tuesday. Our prayers were answered and instead I got transferred today! lame ha. But what can I do? The Lord has plans that we don't know. Elder Foote was in the shower when the assistants called Sunday morning. I told him when he got out and he thought I was joking and when he realized it was true he turned around and screamed haha. Botswana has been having lots of issues with visas and such so one of the missionaries got kicked out and I had to replace him. I am in a village called Kanye near Gaborone. Theres gonna be some love lock down goin on around here! ha...jokes.  My new companion is Elder Holman and I don't know jack about him except that he was Elder Footes companion in the Provo MTC.  After I got through the border I got in the car and it was silent all the way until the email shop... weird. But the village is crazy! compared to the city at least. There are goats and cows all over the place and only 3 paved roads! Going through the border was scary cause I didn't know where to go since there are just a bunch of random buildings and a fence and people that talk quietly through glass windows in accents that I can't understand anyway. But I made it and I'm Bots for the next few months. I never thouhgt I was actually gonna come here cause there are only like 40 missionaries here out of 200 and alot of them are sisters since its the only place they are allowed to be in this mission.

I had a great last week with Elder Foote and we met an interested Afrikaaner family which is rare. We met them Tuesday and visited Sunday night for the first time. I DO NOT like leaving an area, there are so many people that I want to continue to teach and see them progress!  Even though we only visited this fmaily once they are one them. ON top of wanting to continue teaching people I was also just enjoying Sunnyside and getting ideas for how to improve the area and all that. I'm gonna miss everyone there so much! What the hey??? Time to have an even better time here in Kanye yeah? haha Well I don't get much time today cause the internet shop is about to close but I love you guys and hope you have another great week!

-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, April 16, 2012

Repent & Strengthen Your Families!!

Area - Sunnyside, Pretoria
Companion - Elder Foote
Letter #23

PRETORIA— Hello family! How are you? :D This week has been much better than last week and I got to finish it off by watching general conference!

Repent and strengthen your families and use the priesthood! Those were the two main things I learned from conference along with tons of other things of course. It seemed like almost every single speaker said something about the atonement and how we need to make use of it in our lives NOW. Along with that there were so many messages about strengthening our families. Our personal immediate family but also our ward family and world family. All of the messages were important like always but to me they sounded very much more urgent. Elder Jeffrey R.Holland in Saturday afternoon talking about repentance told us that it is never too late with his use of the parable of the eleventh hour workers but more importantly went on to say... IT IS GETTING LATE. Sketch business! Maybe they've always been this urgent and I've just never paid attention this much ha. I learned many things that I wish I had time to tell you about. At the beginning of conference I started to star all the ones that I liked the most...yep, I starred every single one for some reason or another. I liked them all so much and I don't even have one specific favorite but i'll share 2 more highlights. First: Elder Quentin L. Cook talked about strengthening our families and he said as parents, praying with children may be more important than any other example. Mom and Dad, good job ;) Second: Pres.Thomas S. Monson at the very end said, "I assure you that Heavenly Father is mindful of the challenges we face." Just think about that.... That's not him telling us in faith, that's him telling us because he and Heavenly Father have that close of a relationship and being a prophet of God HE CAN speak in Gods behalf. I can't wait to get the May Liahona and read these again! I might/most likely will buy the DVD's and watch them again.

And yes,it was a great week as well. We almost got back up to par in lessons taught and we had 12 people at church again! :D This week probably the best thing that happened was that we were able to meet with the bishop and ward mission leader. We are now being able to align our goals with the ward goals and be more effective in our duty to support the ward to which we are assigned. We now have opened the door od communication so that the bishop and other leaders in the ward know who we are teaching and who will be baptized well in advance of a baptism. Also some of the ward goals like less active work we are going to be helping with a lot more. We are even probably going to put a bigger emphasis on re-activation than finding new people to teach and baptize. There are a lot of less actives. I am enjoying mission so much and learning every day! I think every missionary says it but, Why couldn't I have paid more attention before?? Oh well, It's never too late ;) One last thing. This week is transfer week and Elder Foote and I were praying that I wouldn't get transferred. I'm not going anywhere tomorrow! :D It feels like only 2 weeks since he got here it's crazy how fast time is flying. Can you believe that I started college 1.5 years ago already?? and that I've been here for just under 5months??

It sounds like you guys had a great week! Lots of good things happening! Wish I could have heard mom sing! I'm so glad that you are all happy and doing great stuff. When I was at home I never realized how much fun stuff we did but now that I'm gone it's like Man, you do all this after I leave??? haha but it's not even true, it's just cause I'm not there.

Have a super awesome week! Let the Holy Spirit guide and Smile big!

Love you all!

-Elder Dirkmaat

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Area - Sunnyside, Pretoria
Companion - Elder Foote
Letter #22

PRETORIA — Hi there family!  Hahaha so does that mean I get to have 2 Easter celebrations??? :D Joshua Tree sounds like fun! I hope you are sleeping well right now ha. How far is the run to Swami's? like 10 miles? Mom! What a great missionary you are! That's way cool, I hope that they keep coming to church and that missionaries get to teach them.

This week was an alright missionary work week. Usually we have like 24 lessons but this week we only had 7 D: We had many appts but for some reason people kept getting busy or just weren't there when we came. On Weds we did a park and walk day throughout the mission so all we did was talk to people on the street and on thursday the zone had to go to Joburg for interviews with the President so we didn't get to do much that day. But all the rest of the days people just weren't around! Even on Sunday you would think that more people would be at church...nope, less. We only had 5 investigators when we have had 12 plus the past few weeks. BUMMER! This week we are going to turn things around though. We already have many appts stacked up and we still have many people that we can go visit if our plans don't work out. We also have been trying to have a correlation meeting with he ward mission leader for the past month and i am 99% sure that it will actually happen this time. I have never attended a correlation meeting yet...that's not good! This week should actually turn out to be a great week...I'll let ya know next Monday ;)

The park and walk day on weds was pretty interesting. We started walking from the chapel and had a route planned to go near downtown, to a central park kinda thing then back in a big circle to the church and we thought it would take us all day but we got done in few hours. so we went to some nearby neighborhoods after that. We were supposed to contact 20 people by the end of the day and we got exactly that. We had high hopes and that that we would be bale to get 40 people easily but much to our dismay hardly anybody wanted to talk to us! Usually we could stop and talk to anyone or at least if we waved and said hi they would smile and say hi back. That day everybody was just mean ha. But we met a guy from Kenya and he gave us his info so we sent that to the missionaries up there and we also met like 6 other people from surrounding areas so we were able to give a few referrals out to missionaries nearby. We might not have gotten many people to visit in our area but we helped out some other missionaries fro sure! We did find a couple father led families to teach that we are going to visit this week. We are excited for them. We always try to teach father led families so that there can be a strong father in the church leading his family and holding the priesthood. We are always trying to find males to teach because there are tons of females in the church but not enough priesthood holding males to split into more wards etc and fathers are the best! It's weird in some missions you teach anybody who will listen but because it's so easy for us to get people to teach we have to make priorities and sift through so that we are being most effective. In England you could probably visit someone who isn't keeping commitments for a few months or even a year but here, generally it's 3 chances and dropped. Depends on where you are but villages, townships, and city that's how it usually works. Places like La Costa you are gonna hold on to an investigator as long as possible.

I was super excited for Easter yesterday but then it wasn't as great as I was hoping. We weren't able to meet with anybody and it didn't even really feel like Easter. It was weird. Thurs, Fri, and Sat it def felt like Easter and we were teaching about it and helping people understand why we celebrate it and watched The Lamb of God and even the families that we had dinner at we talked about it/shared spiritual thoughts about it and had a mini Easter egg hunt with one of them. So that was good! :D

Well, I hope you have a great week! Get home from you're trip safely I love you all! :D

-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, April 2, 2012

"The Lord is My Rock, Then Why Should I Fear?"

Area - Sunnyside, Pretoria
Companion - Elder Foote
Letter #21

PRETORIAOnce again, great week! :D Even when things don't go as planned what's to stop us from having a good time doing missionary work? Nothing! We are doing the Lords work and "nothing can stop the work from progressing" or us from being happy ;) We had like half the number of lessons this week as we usually do but it's alright cause we got to visit the people who are preparing for baptism at the end of this month and most of them are excited already! A couple are unsure still but if they do the things we ask them and come to church I know they will be able to know that it is the right thing for them to do by the end of the month.

The people are...
Annah is a recent converts sister who just moved here from Nigeria a month ago. Annah is pretty wacky and likes to joke around a lot. Then all of a sudden she will get very serious for a minute and then back to joking. She has been to church for 2 weeks straight now.

Musa I think I told you about, he used to be a Muslim but heard about Jesus Christ and wants to be a christian now. He was at church 5 or 6 times before we even saw him. Every time we teach him and then ask him to pray about things he says "why? I already believe it. If you tell me I believe." We have been able to help him understand though that he needs to get an answer from God. It's good that he accepts everything but accepting is different than commiting. Baptism is a lifelong commitment so that's what we are trying to help him understand right now.

Hendrick and his wife Lebone and daughter Tumelo. We are taking a more basic approach with them since Hendrick hasn't been to church since he was a boy. He tells us he feels good every time we visit and he wants to learn more and change his life. We taught them about prayer last and at the end of the lesson Hendrick reluctantly agreed to pray and he did it perfectly. :D The only problem with them is that he works on Sundays sometimes and never knows if he will or not till the day of and he drinks. As much as I love teaching this family, it's always awkward cause she always feeds their newborn baby when we are there. I'm just glad she covers and that it doesn't happen multiple times a day like it does to the missionaries in townships and villages!

Lawrence and his wife Grace and 2 kids Prudence and Tebogo. Lawrence is the one who went to the store to see if he could buy the Book of Mormon. He is very shy and quiet but the more we visit the more he opens up and has more questions/understands.

Then there is Aida and Ernesto and their 3 kids who don't know english that well. We have to bring a translator with us. This week we taught them about the Restoration and then we watched the DVD with them yesterday. They have been praying a reading and attending church very intently. I just hope we can teach them the things in time for April 29th! Otherwise they will have to wait to baptized until the end of May.

This week we also got to bring these new member kits to the ones who were baptized last week and that was my favorite cause in the kit is a picture of the temple and we get to teach them about temples and how their next goal after baptism is to be ready to go to the temple one year from now. The temple is my absolute favorite so every time we talk about it I just get really happy :D

Nope, the lady from Poland we aren't gonna be able to teach her. She is pretty crazy and even if we tried to teach her she would answer a question with an hour long essay. Ha. The bible group kids were pretty receptive and they want us to come back. there were a few that were interested but they didn't want us to come visit them...yet.  I think we will be able to teach a few of them. They had spring break last week so we didn't get to go but this week we will hopefully.

Funny Story. The confirmations yesterday were kinda hectic ha. Elder Foote and I were a few minutes late to church which was weird. We got ready like normal and did everything the same but I guess we just didn't look at the time cause when we were about 10mins from the chapel I look at the clock and it was 8:55! So luckily the ward mission leader had done his job and asked some people to do the confirmations. However, they didn't know how to pronounce the names and 2 of them had to start over.  One of the mistakes wasn't realized until he was almost done with it. He started over and said something like "these blessings that have been previously pronounced upon you we give you now."  In the end everythning was done right though which is the thing that counts.

Well, that's my week! I hope you have a super week/month cause it sounds like you have some fun stuff planned!
Happy Easter next week!!
Oh and I can't comment on general conference cause we dont get to watch it till the week after Easter :(

Love you all!

-Elder Dirkmaat :D