Monday, June 25, 2012

Missionaries, Culture & Fathers

Area - Kanye, Botswana
Companion - Elder Holman
Letter #33

How are you my family? :D

I got residency! :D I could go back to South Africa but most likely I won't. There are transfers July 10 so maybe wait until then to send? You have the address right?

Ollie you got bit my a gecko? Ouch! i got bit by a dog! haha. It only nicked me though. Glad you guys found some new friends! Did you take some pictures of the huge bunnies?? I wanna see em! Nate I emailed you last and you never replied :P Glad graduation week was fun though! What is your eagle project if it's only 1 or 2 weeks away? haha nate, you and your friends need to listen to the song Kunze Kwadoka by Oliver Mtukudzi, "Punani!"

This week has been another great week, except for church ha. This time there were zero investigators. BUMMER. We were positive that there were gonna be at least 7 people. One family had to go to the cattle post cause some of their cattle got lost. Another family, the son got sick and they went to the hospital. another guy is a detective and got called in to work. Another woke up and his dad had taken the car and he had no money for a taxi. I decided maybe we aren't doing anything wrong but maybe we could improve by helping people find ways to come to church and praying and fasting even that they will have no obstacles and be able to make it. It's just that pesky little Satan likes to mess things up! And we have to work harder than him :D

About missionaries and culture and fathers. Well dad you are right; that is exactly what we do. We teach fathers how to be more responsible and care for their families. It doesn't matter where you are in the world, every culture revolves around family. Everybody has parents and most people have children. In the Bible we learn that Adam was the first man and he and Eve were the first parents and they made a family. We are not teaching people to change their culture, we are teaching them things that we KNOW are truev(by the power of the Holy Ghost) and that have been true since the foundation of the world and since the beginning of time. Cain was the start of incorrect traditions among the children of men. In the Book of Mormon we learn that we have scripture and prophets to convince and testify to us of the truth; that God is our Father and Jesus Christ is the Saviour of all mankind; and of the incorrectness of the traditions of our fathers. All cultures stem off of the belief that there is a supreme being but are not christian cultures due to the fact that their fathers chose not to listen the counsel of Gods prophets and made their own way of doing things. Maybe it wasn't called Christianity until after Jesus Christ was crucified but it is still the only religion that has been on the Earth since the first man. We all believe the same thing but over time ideas have been lost or eroded and changed. That is why we have living prophets sent from God today to lead us and guide us to the full 100% truth. The purpose of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to bring us all together as families. We are god's children and He wants us to live with him again after we die and we can only do that if we follow the gospel of Jesus Christ and develoop good relationships with our families here on Earth. We share the truth with others and let them accept or reject it. We don't do the convincing. The Holy Spirit does the convincing and if they feel the spirit and choose to reject then there is not much else we can do except be good examples. It is not us telling people to change, it is God. We are not however, completely changing their cultures. For example, here in Africa many people believe in their ancestors and in worshiping them and receiving guidance from them. So do we. We don't worship them but we can communicate with them though work for the dead and they can help us in our lives as well.  Me personally,  I love other cultures. Learning new dances and songs. Here in Africa they have funerals an interesting way that I'll have to explain some other time. eating different foods. The way people interact with each other. Nobody loses anything from becoming a "Christian." Instead, they become better. They have greater knowledge and understanding of how God wants things to be done and not how man wants things to be done.

Well I didn't say much about what I did this week.. Sorry.
Have a great week and I hope we both have lots of stories for next time! :D

Love you all!
-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy Father's Day!!

Area - Kanye, Botswana
Companion - Elder Holman
Letter #32

Happy Father's Day, Daddio (Rra)! Hope you know you're my favorite dad! :D I got to see the pictures of you and Soph at the dance today! Looks super fun! Nate, Ollie, Soph and I are sure lucky to have a guy like you as our Dad. Thanks for everything you do! It's funny how we teach father led families here and help the fathers to be good fathers ha. How do I do that? Teaching them the things I have learned from the gospel and from you! There's gonna be lots of dad's like you here in Botswana! ;)

This week once again went by super fast! I don't know where time goes but it sure is movin' quick. I gave a talk yesterday in Sacrament meeting. I prepared A LOT to talk about cause I hate giving talks and not knowing what to say. Turns out I prepared like 5 times too much! ha. I was only supposed to talk for 10 mins and I struggled to make it only 14 mins! Crazy. I think one thing that I really learned this week is that the Lord really does make weak things become strong unto us. On Wednesday the AP's were here. They went on a trip through Bots visiting all the missionaries. I got to spend all day with Elder Alder as my companion. We had a great day, taught like 7 lessons and even taught 7 new investigators. As we talked throughout the day I started to realize some things. When I was on misson for 3 months I was super scared that I would have to train. Now I would be stoked to train! When I was 4 1/2 months I was super scared that I would have to open a new area. Now one of the things i want to do most is open a new area and train at the same time! At the end of the day as Elder Alder and i were planning we did an exchange report and part of that is for him to tell me what he thought some of my strengths are. The one that surprised me was he said I am good with the people, I get along with them really well and seem natural talking to anybody. Since coming on mission I guess I kind of have developed a no fear attitude about talking to anybody. I know one thing also that it didn't come easy. i had to force myself to say things that made me feel uncomfortable and most of all I had to pray and ask Heavenly Father to help me have the courage and the words to say. I still have far to go but He sure has made weak things become strong to me.

Remember how I said i was going to wake up everyday exactly on time? Did it! Except for Tuesday. It wasn't even hard actually. I found that after Wednesday I couldn't even stay in bed any longer that 6:30 ha. That was a cool experience.
Something that confuses me... We had so many good lessons with so many people this week and tons of people telling us they were going to come to church without us even asking and issues worked out for those who had a problem to come. I honestly thought we would have at least 10 and possibly 20! How many came? 2. The Molebatsi's who have come every week straight for 2 months. Why?? The Molebatsi's had a fantastic time at church nonetheless. But what about these others? Makes me sad. The zone leaders had another 5 baptisms yesterday. Super excited for them and for the branch to be growing! 4 of them were priesthood holders! There were 61 people at church which is a record! Things are growing but it seems like elder Holman and I are doing something just slightly wrong to where people like us but don't want to come to church come Sunday. Gonna figure it out soon.

Funny happenings...I got the package! The cholula was broken but I still saved about a 1/2 of a cup :D The Rice Krispies were fantastic! I baked the brownies (my absolute favorite brownies in the world) for Bro. Molebatsis bday yesterday and I burned them!!! D:<

You wanted to know what the conditions are that we and others live in? Well for us, we live in a pretty big house. The hot water runs out pretty fast so I have had tons of cold showers in the freezing morning ha. It is made out of brick and the floor is tile so at night and in the morning we always have the heaters running cause of how cold it is. I don't even walk around barefoot (casue it's cold AND my flatmates cannot keep a clean kitchen...), I got some slippers :D The bottom of my slippers is nashty.

People in the village have varying circumstances. Some live in mud huts but others live in houses nicer than ours! The running water goes out very often and even every tuesday night and sometimes thursday the power is shut off so it is suuuuuper dark. makes me feel like I'm camping again cause of how bright the stars are. Many people have cars but lots of them walk everywhere and even some have donkey carts. hopefully I don't leave before I get a camera cause you need to see a picture of a donkey cart!

say hi to chan and trevor for me it was good to hear from them!

Have a safe trip home grandma!

Have a good week family! I love you tons!
-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dumella! Legai

Area - Kanye, Botswana
Companion- Elder Holman
Letter #31

Dumella! Legai? Sounds like you are doing fine! :D

Today I don't have much time cause the internet is painfully slow. I hope Steeze graduates too! Goin to Byu-I in a few months! crazy! Must be fun to have grandma there with you. Jealous! ha. Yeah it's cool if he gets another car as long as dad approves. I didn't get to look at the pictures cause of the internet but I will next week, no worries. Grandma's story was super funny! Loved it ha.

I have the information I was missing last week. So the address for the Botswana Mission Office is:  Postnet Kgale AD 172 ADD Gaborone, Botswana - Some things that would be sweet in a package: Crest toothpaste whitening plus scope Minty Fresh flavor, Ocean Potion chapstick Lip 45, a star chart, and this cool scripture marker utensil thing that you could ask Sara about.  I think she'll know what I'm talkin about. :D And some things that you should check out:  Look up
the Soweto Gospel Choir and listen to the music! It's super cool! Also Oliver Mtukudzi has some nice music.

This week has been great! The kids that walked 5 miles to church; we didn't get to have more than one lesson with them cause they stay with their grandma so we have to bring a member with us to teach and we couldn't get one to come with us so we didn't get to teach them but we saw them a few times and even found out that his older sister used to attend in gabs and has a BOM but never got baptized. They weren't at church this week but hopefully we will get to visit them this week.
He introduced us to all his friends this week and he says he had been praying a lot since on Monday we taught him and his nephew about prayer.

We had a record number of people at church again! 7 this time! It was freezing cold too which makes it even more of a success! Usually people don't come to church if it is too cold. It was so cold this weekend I felt like I was back in Idaho! Good thing we have some heaters in the flat and that I have a good coat for during the day! On Wednesday we went on exchanges with the zone leaders which was awesome. Elder Robinson came with me in our area and Elder Holman went
with Elder Kuseni from Zambia. Elder Robinson and I did some  tracting and found some sweet people. One guy we talked to wasn't really interested too much at first but we helped him fix his car and then he wanted to talk to us more as time went on. Eventually as we shared some things and answered some questions he had about churches and God he invited himself to church and asked when we could come back! The only problem is that he is ALWAYS at the cattle post. I don't know why everybody has a cattle post but they are always there. It's almost like they'd rather be there than at home. So he wasn't at church this week and we probs won't get to see him for at least another week cause of how much he is gone.

Another guy that we taught yesterday, Robert, is way cool. I met him on Mothers day while Elder Holman was on the phone.  He thought I was a land surveyor so he came over to talk to me. He has many questions about the gospel and which church is true etc. He says all the churches do funny things and he doesn't want to put himself with them. He says there are pastors but on the weekend he is a rapist or a murderer so he doesn't want to go to church. He does almost everything right except he doesn't go to church! He also has a hard time accepting that he can learn anything from us cause we are so young and he is 54. We made some progress yesterday though because we kind of got him to realize that we know a lot he doesn't for example, what the spirit feels like. He was really happy that we could answer some of his questions and he even told his wife that when they go to the cattle post tomorrow they are going to bring the BOM with them and he is going to read it all day! We'll see how that goes but I think he is being honest with us. He always introduces us to people that are at his place as his friends and helpers to learn the gospel. He likes us a lot, it's just a matter of him doing the work to read and pray about what we share with him.

Well I gotta go but have an awesome week with graduation and having grandma there and all that! Love you family!

-Elder Dirkmaat

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Spirit Leads the Way

Area - Kanye, Botswana
Companion - Elder Holman
Letter #30

Hi family!

Thanks for the great e-mail! Super excited that Eric turned in his mission papers! that's awesome! I was already gonna write him a letter today to see how he's doing since I tried his e-mail and it didn't work I guess. He finds out next week already? Better tell me where he goes and when he leaves! My guess is Paraguay. My hope is South Africa ha. When will Brother Gruen be in South Africa? Depending if I get residency, I could be back in 5 weeks. But if I do get residency I'll probs be here till at least the end of this year. That daddy-daughter dance sounds like a blast! Glad you went "all out." No regrets! haha. Do you have any pictures of what you looked like? I didn't get the announcement for graduation yet but I got the 6 month package! Thanks for it! I like it a lot :D

This week flew by so fast it's hard to even remember what we did. We had our record number of investigators at church yesterday, 4! The Molebatsi family came on time finally which was really good cause they finally got to take the sacrament and all of the sudden they are all fired up again. They got hung up on tithing but they are overcoming that by developing their faith and desire to follow Jesus Christ. We've been teaching a lot about faith, commandments, being examples of the believers, being children of God, etc. One lesson we were teaching I thought of an analogy randomly about why we follow the commandments. Totally the spirit that gave me the analgy cause halfway through it I didn't even know what I was gonna say next or it was all gonna work ha. We were telling them you have a belief in God first. Then, you read the scriptures to learn of him. Next, pray to receive an answer that he is there. Finally, obey the commandments that he gives to increase your testimony of him and receive blessings. Analogy: You want some chicken. You believe that there is chicken at the supermarket. You read the advertisement in the paper about the chicken(read the scriptures). You go to supermarket and ask the workers where the chicken is(pray). They show you and tell you that to get it you have to pay(answer to prayer). You pay the price(obey commandment) and you get the chicken. I got to believing that there is chicken at the supermarket and thought "Where am I going with this??" but I kept talking and it all worked out. It was interesting and kind of an example of in D&C when the lord says that the spirit will give us the things to say in the moment that we need them. I've had it happen so many times but this time it was a little easier to explain than other times so I told you about it! ha. But we had a nice time with the Molebatsi family last night. They weren't sure that they were ready to baptized yet. The father is a detective so it is tough for him to do something without knowing everything. We asked them the baptismal interview questions and they answered correctly and firmly to all of them and so we told them that they are more than ready to be baptized. The thing about learning more we told them would come when they received the gift of the Holy Ghost and even I told them the story of one of the presidents of the church when he was 98 years old told the other apostles that he was finally BEGINNING to understand why we go to the temple. They are now planning on being baptized on June 17. Pray for them! He's gonna be the next branch president! ha.

On Saturday we met two kids 12 and 14. It was crazy to hear about the kinds of things they had done in their lives already. One of them told us about his favorite kinds of beer and the other told us of how he had french kissed this girl. There was some other stuff but I think that sufficeth yeah? We were talking to them for a while and they really wanted us to come visit their families and even they wanted to come to church the next day. Lots of missionaries don't like to talk to kids too much but would rather just say hi make them laugh and keep going. Me, I love talking to kids! And now we have this sweet teaching opportunity because the 12 year old came to church yesterday and brought his sister and nephew! They walked like 5+ miles to get there too! I am excited to go visit their families today and hopefully it will be as good as I hope it is!

The past weeks I have been really bad at getting out of bed at 6:30. I've been awake but not out of bed. This last week I started to make progress and did like 15-20 mins of stretching before getting out of bed and this week I should be exercising AT 6:35(after I pray ;D). It's been super hard to be awake right away in the morning for me and it's weird because the sooner i get out of bed the better of a day I have. Being exactly obedient truly brings blessings! I like the story you told, Dad, about how you would go to sleep way late and be physically tired even the next morning but you still had energy because you were doing what you are supposed to. I am enjoying mission and I love it so much and I'm sure that if I can wake up on time I can love it even more.

I hope you have a great week! I love you all! I will def keep that girl in my prayers.

-Elder Dirkmaat :D