Monday, November 11, 2013

Homecoming Announcement


Seeing You Soon!!!

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Louw
Letter #101

Hey Wena's!

This is the last email! Feels really weird! i don't think that I will actually believe that I am coming home until I get on the plane. I am also super excited to see everybody! Thanks for thinking about letting me sleep before going to have some fun haha. I am already super tired. maybe I'll just sleep the whole way on the plane and be full of energy right when I get there! 

It has been such a wonderful experience to serve as a missionary for the past two years. My favorite thing about being a missionary is seeing the change that is wrought when people gain a testimony of the gospel and start to become converted to it. When somebody is obedient to the principles of the gospel their countenances are changed. I have seen people go from looking poor, sad and rejected to clean, lively and just having a glow about them. I have read in the scripture about having a bright countenance and I feel like I have truly witnessed that happening in the lives of the people that I have had the opportunity to teach over the past two years. I know that the restored gospel is true! There is nothing that could possibly make me so happy. There is nothing that could bring about the changes of heart that I have seen if those who have become converted unto the Lord. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ in it's fullness has that power. We had the baptism of Mona Lisa yesterday and it was such a perfect way to end. She was so happy. I have seen her change over the past 6 months and I know that she will continue on the path that she has set for herself. It took a long time to get to this point but she was ready yesterday! 

Mona Lisa's Baptism!

Me with Brother Willers

I have received so much support from you and all the family and friends that I have and I needed that support! The examples that you are to the people around you make you the best support. Knowing that you have been righteous while I've been away makes me know that you love what I am doing. i can't wait to be home and see what has changed and and what is still he same. It's going to be so weird to think more about myself than I have int he past little while but at least I'll be busy. Thanks for preparing ha. The most important plan that we have to make is that we will be missionaries for the rest of our lives. Sara and I already decided that it is happening, are you in!? 

Just so you know, I love South Africa! and Botswana. I love the people here and I miss them so much even though I haven't left! I love the gospel of Jesus Christ! I love YOU! 

See ya in a few hours (like less that 48?)!
-Elder Robert B. Dirkmaat :D

Monday, November 4, 2013

Last Week!

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Louw
Letter #100

This week we were able to give Yolanda a baptismal date for January 24th I think. Last time we asked she said no because she's already been baptized but this time we thought of some questions to ask her and ways that we could help her learn instead of just telling her why she needs to get baptized again. We tried to help her learn and give herself the answers and it worked! We also brought a newly married couple with us. Well, they're not newly wed since she's pregnant with their second but yeah. They helped so much cause now Yolanda has normal people to be friends with and to help her feel comfortable. Having members in lessons is such an awesome experience and I'm sure having them there was one of the reasons she said yes. Before Elder Louw even finished the question she was smiling big and nodding her head yes. It was a good reminder to get our of the way of the spirit and let it do its job! It takes a lot more love and patience to be able to teach with the spirit instead of in front of it. It takes so much more concentration to ask inspired questions and effort to prepare a good lesson that they actually need. At the beginning of my mission it was hard for me to have love for the people we were teaching so I worked on it a lot but you can never stop increasing in love for others and finding new ways to help them feel the spirit and learn the truth! 

I got an email from Nate but it didn't seem like he was enjoying it too much. He's probably the most homesick missionary on the planet haha. I don't know how to help him! I wish I could just go be his companion! Hopefully what I replied will help.

Well it's my last week! Weird... but it's gonna be awesome! Lots of people to teach and people to find!

Have a fabulous week!
I love you!
-Elder Bobby Dirkmaat :D

Monday, October 28, 2013

Denouement

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Louw
Letter #99

Hey you can't use big words like that when you talk to me! I've been working on simplifying my vocabulary for the past 2 years! :P But yes, my denouement is gonna be powerful. My last Sunday Mona Lisa is going to be baptized! We have been working with her every week since I got here (6 months) and she is finally ready! I think she is very excited even though she doesn't really show her emotions on the outside. She says that she is going to buy a new dress because it is such a special occasion to her. We are going to have her interview this week and then she will be ready! We are always advised to have the interviews for baptism at least a week early just in case there is a situation where our Mission President would need to come and do a second interview. We are positive that Mona Lisa will pass but sometimes people decide not to say anything till the interview. We were asked to do an interview for a sister in Mamelodi on Saturday night and her baptism was scheduled for the next day. I interviewed her and she had a wonderful and personal testimony of Jesus Christ and of the restoration but because of history she wasn't able to be baptized because she needs to meet with the Mission President first. I'm sure she will be fine and the second interview is just protocol but if there was a week gap from the interview to the baptism there would be no problem with postponing the baptism. It was really difficult to tell her that she couldn't be baptized the next day especially when she was so excited and had probably already told her friends and family about it as well. I have had to tell a few people that they are not ready yet but seeing this lady's face and the heartbreak she must have felt was different than all the previous times. In spite of how sad she must have been it truly is amazing to see how powerful the truth is to change somebody from not really worrying about religion to it becoming their whole life and their baptism being something that they cannot live without. 

We were teaching Sipho the other day about the Law of Tithing. Most people don't understand how important it is and what it should really be used for. Sipho is definitely one of those people. When we teach him things he never knew before he always get this surprised look and then says something like "Oh! so when I was doing that (or not doing that) I was sinning! Sir, I am so sorry. I am going to keep this commandment from now. I never knew that I was doing wrong but now I must obey. Thank you, Sir, for telling me this thing that I was doing wrong so that I can change." the thing that I love about Sipho is how humble he is, that allows him to learn like a child and use his agency to act with power according to the new knowledge he has obtained. I think I said it before but I will say it again. Most of my areas we have had tons of people to teach and had to sift through the ones that are really ready for the gospel as that time. In this area it is so difficult to actually get investigators but when we do get them they are ready and prepared. 

I am going to miss being a missionary so much. People keep asking me how long I have left and I was saying a month but then the other day somebody said "Don't you go home on November 12? That's not even three weeks!" People keep saying its soon but I keep telling them that it is far cause of how much we still need to do. I feel like I'm just going to be a missionary for the rest of my life cause it's just what I've been doing for the past 2 years. It's more regular that school was!

You wanted to know more about my companion. We are having a great time together! We have very similar personalities. The only difference is that he is not much into sports but big into music and he is a chef. He plays drums and guitar. When he gets home he is going to open a restaurant in Cape Town that I am going to go to called The Avo Tree. I was scared my whole mission that I would get a companion that I would hate but I never got it! All my companions are super good friends! Brother Foote and Brother Jenkinson just sent me emails so I hope I will have time to reply to them today.

Have a great week! Thanks for making that cool announcement! The only thing I don't look forward to is speaking...It feels like so much pressure that I'll have to wow everybody. Don't get your hopes up for a powerful sermon!

Love ya!
-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, October 21, 2013

Teaching Moments

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Louw
Letter #98

Heyllo! How ya doin!? 

So I'll share with you my miracle from the week/something I learned. 

We were teaching a lady named Yolanda the previous week and we invited her to be baptized. Without even hesitating she said "I've already been baptized." Sometimes with Afrikaners it is hard to tell if they are like raising their voice or if it's just the way they talk. So we thought that she was very against getting baptized again. Her husband started talking about authority and how he believes that it has been restored. He is a member. But then he talked about something else and we weren't able to bring it back to baptism. But this past week we have been reading some talks by Elder Bednar that he asked we study in preparation for him to visit on Oct 31 (which is super exciting! Cannot wait!)  So in one of his talks he teaches how we need to seek learning by faith and as teachers to teach by the spirit and help our investigators seek learning by faith as well. It kind of goes back to preach my gospel that we need to listen to their needs so that spirit can tell us what they need and how we can present it to them. The way that we can listen is by making them talk and we do that by sharing something small and then asking inspired questions. 

So we were trying to figure out how we were going to help sister Mona Lisa progress. We figured some questions that we were going to ask her which turned out very good and the lesson with her was also a miracle cause we received confirmation that she is ready for her baptism whereas previously we were kind of unsure. Elder Louw has that Color code book by Dr. Hartman (who is a member and was the mission psychologist for our mission and was just released a year ago) so we figured out what color we thought Mona Lisa is and we went to the part where he tells you things that will help that color feel comfortable. So we went to the lesson giving her compliments and just being really nice. It was almost like a movie being extra nice. I kind of wondered why I couldn't always be that nice. So it went well, she opened up, shared her feelings and testimony of the gospel and even asked us tons of questions. Her date for baptism is the 10th of November

Now back to Yolanda. On the same path of trying to help our investigtors seek learning by faith we recommited ourselves to being guides and not lecturers in our lessons. It has been powerful to see how people learn when you just act as a guide and let them teach themselves basically. We haven't been able to visit yolanda this week but we are going tomorrow. Relating to her being baptized we want to ask her. "We know that you have already been baptized but, why do you think that we would still ask you to be baptized?" Lots of times we immediately try to remind them of the authority or something like that. I am excited to help her think of the answer herself. Her question is why do I need to be baptized again if I already have been? We know the answer but she needs to know the answer and us telling her is not going to make her also know. So basically the miracle was that my teaching improved! I feel like I've also been able to gain more love for the people we teach because it does take a lot more love and patience to help somebody else seek learning by faith than to just give them all the answers.

It is so awesome to be able to learn and grow as a missionary and receive a stronger testimony as I see others learn the truth. There was a baptism for two 8 yr olds in our ward yesterday and Bantu brought his 2 daughters. One is 10 and the other is like 22. On Friday Bantu's 22 yr old daughter was there and she was very interested from when she had attended his baptism. We taught her a lot about the Book of Mormon and how it can answer the questions that she has. Bantu of course bore powerful testimony of that. She told us that she has never felt so good at another church ever in her life and that she kept having this feeling to come back. Well on Sunday she came with Bantu. We hear the baptism talks in the chapel and then move to the other room for the baptism so after the baptsims were performed everybody was going out back to the chapel and she walked by the font where Elder Louw and I were and she was looking at the font and I said kind of in a joking tone but serious inside ( if you know what I mean) "That's gonna be you soon!" she smiled real big and said "Yes I think so!" ...Didn't expect that. 

Thanks for all that you do for me. I know you are working hard to make sure that everything goes smoothly when i get home. I am excited! Don't stress too much. I love you mucho!

-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pretoria on Fire!!

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Louw
Letter #76

Wait for me to get home before you fix the car! I wanna help and learn! Elder Center was a diesel mechanic so he has told me lots about cars. Now I just need to experience it.

I am setting Pretoria on fire for sure! In fact, the whole world! We have been getting tons of referrals lately so we are happy. Hopefully some of them pan out. I really do enjoy being a zone leader. We teach a zone meeting once every transfer based on the things that we learn in a meeting called Mission Leadership Council with President and the assistants. This transfer the focus was on the gathering of Israel which was a powerful topic. I won't be able to explain it all now so you'll have to remind when I get home to teach you what I learned but basically it was all about how we have been chosen to be here at this specific time in this specific area and that we were foreordained to hold the priesthood (Alma 13) and to be part of the gathering of Israel. The only 2 promises in the Abrahamic Covenant that have not been fulfilled yet are that Israel will be gathered and that Jesus Christ will come a second time. The Book of Mormon was a sign that the gathering has commenced (3 Nephi 21). When God called Joseph Smith to be a prophet and to translate the Book of Mormon he was thinking about gathering His lost sheep by first going to the gentiles and then from them to Israel. Just thinking about how important of a role we play in that great plan is a powerful thought. The missionary work is starting to roll forth in a way that it never has been before. It is being talked about more during conference and even President noticed that there has been a pattern over the past few years that the general authorities are addressing the mission presidents more and more about the the gathering of Israel. 

"A great and a marvelous work is [going] forth among the children of men!" Thanks for sending me that part of my patriarchal blessing. I have often thought about what those words mean and if I have accomplished it to some degree or another. I feel like I have but just like you said, there are still more people in darkness whose light needs to be kindled! 4 more weeks! That part of the blessing and Alma 13 go hand in hand with one another and I never realized it until you quoted that.

I hope that you have a wonderful week! Be examples to everyone and find every opportunity to be a missionary! Thanks for your support and love. Can't wait to see you! 

Love you tons!
-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

6 More Weeks!!

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Louw
Letter #96

Hallloooo!! ---  that's a Disney quote, name the character and the movie.

This week has been fantastic! I got a new companion, Elder Louw. he is from Cape Town and he's not a greenie but he is almost a year on mission. Pretty close! haha jk. I still feel like I'm a year. He is going to be teaching me some Afrikaans in my last few weeks. I am already saying lots of things and the members love it! hahah.

Zone activity at the Voortrekker Museum! That place is awesome! The voortrekkers are just like the Mormon pioneers!

I just sent an email to Nate, I hope he has time to reply. How much time does he get on p-day? I got a letter from Eric Kennedy and he is loving Brasil! Yes I did get the package, sorry I forgot to say something, I'm bad at that... Thank you!! I read the book already and the pillow case is being well used. i actually had an extra pillow with no case on it. ha. The package came from Germany so we were all really confused as to who sent it but opening it solved the problem. ;) 

I think this is going to be a great last 6 weeks. This week we had like 4 new investigators all from referrals which was awesome! 2 of the people we met are fathers and we are going to be able to teach their families the next time we go visit. the only problem is that they both wanted the return appt to be 2 weeks from now so we are gonna have to be patient. Passing pass along cards at the street lights is a success! We got a call from a guy that wants to meet with us and for us to bring the DVD to him this Wednesday. He is also probably a family! ALSO, Bantu's son called us this week and he said that he is really serious now about finding the truth and that he wants us to help him find and to help him be able to read and understand the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Powerful! He said he got tired of hearing his dad always talk about the church and everything and that he just wants to know for himself. Bantu is a powerful convert. I know that he will be active for the rest of his life and I wouldn't be surprised if the rest of his family joins as well! When we went to meet his son we also met his ex wife and she also seemed pretty excited to see us. 

We did get to watch conference! It was pretty inspiring. In the words of Bantu, WOW!  I don;t have a favorite yet cause we were late to the Saturday morning session. we were teaching a lesson. and we haven't seen the Sunday afternoon yet. I'm not sure when we will get to see it. 

I thought I was gonna write a lot more but I just had a mind blank. Sorry. I hope you know that i love you! Spreading the gospel is such a great blessing and privilege. This last six weeks will definitely be my best!

-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, September 30, 2013

Charity, The Doctrine of Christ

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Coon
Letter# 95

Hey there!
The week was pretty good! Well besides the fact that I feel like I am going home with my companion tomorrow... We had Bantu's baptism last sunday and he got confirmed yesterday. He bore the most powerful testimony afterwards and he even touched the heart of one of his daughters who attended and who was always giving him a hard time and not accepting the church. His family came all the way from Durban to see him get baptized and they all loved church. They were so happy and I think Bantu was the happiest guy on the planet that day. He asked me to baptize him and Elder Coon to confirm him. Our stake president thinks he could be the next bishop in our ward. Such a powerful and converted man. 

Bantu's Baptism!!!

I only have six weeks and I know i gotta work harder than ever before. I think what will help me most is what I learned on Friday. In the morning I was reading Moroni 7 about charity and the last verse was the one I never realized what it meant before. It says that we need to ask for charity and as we gain it the result will be that when we Jesus Christ we will see him as he is and we will be like him. I thought it would kind if be like seeing your twin that you never met and how joyous it would be. then we were talking about the Doctrine of Christ in District Meeting and the question was why is love important in teaching the Doctrine of Christ? I had learned it before but I never realized it. It is important because if we teach it with love it basically like He himself were teaching his own doctrine to our investigators. When we gain charity it is the pure love of Christ which helps us become one with him. Then I thought of the quote that you sent in the letter that I just got on Thursday that says "Live so that others who know you but don't know Christ will want to know Christ because they know you." The way we live that way is to develop charity and then we can be able to teach the doctrine in the way that he would have us teach them and they will feel His love for them through us! The best moments that ever happened in my service as a missionary are when somebody has felt his love for them through me and become converted to His gospel.

One more thing... I went to the temple on Saturday and it was Amazzzzzzing! I missed that place so bad after more than 6 months. So the temple was powerful like always but the best part was that the new video was there. I never learned so much at the temple than I did that day. It was a really cool experience. I cannot wait to go back again in six weeks and then to go every single week when I get home!
Well have great week. You're the best! 
I love you! 
-Elder Bobby Dirkmaat :D

Monday, September 16, 2013

2 Missionary Family

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Coon
Letter #94

Wow! Nate is a missionary too! weird to think but so excited and happy for him! I'm sure he is loving it even if he was super scared to go to a foreign country. The MTC is fun and sometimes I miss it ha. Can't wait to see all those Elders that I was scared to talk to 2 years ago!

Bantu's baptism is this Sunday!!!! WOOO! He invited his family to come and he was really worried about what he was going to say so he sent us the SMS he wanted to send to proof it and make sure that it was okay. WOW. I don't think he even needs to be interviewed. Don't worry we are still gonna have the interview but man, I don't think that I have ever felt more confident that somebody is ready to be baptized than I do for Bantu. Everybody was always ready but Bantu was ready like a month ago and now his readiness has just multiplied since then. Bantu really is a miracle.

So for the member PMG program the first assignment was to read chapter one and talk as a family about what their duties are as missionaries and how they can contribute. We started it with three families and will follow up this week and will start with Bishops family tonight. One of the families is already doing more than just discussing though! They invited MonaLisa for dinner tomorrow night and for us to teach a lesson afterwards! Love it when members do things like this! MonaLisa needs this fellowship more than ever.

This week was full of giving blessings! Holy smokes. I think we gave six including the one from last week. i love to be able to provide priesthood blessings to others. On Sunday during Elders Quorum the teacher asked us how receiving the priesthood helped us prepare for mission. I never thought about it before but it helps because we receive the priesthood and we are supposed to use it to serve others which prepares us to be missionaries because when we become missionaries we serve 100% of the time. You receive the priesthood to prepare to be a missionary and then you be a missionary to help you learn how to exercise the priesthood for the rest of your life!

Have a wonderful week! I love you mucho!

-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, September 9, 2013

Service, service, service!

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Coon
Letter #93

Hi! 

Can I just say really quick that I cannot wait to just talk and tell you all about South Africa instead of typing. Maybe if I could type like Dad it wouldn't be that bad but this'll have to do for now. 

Nate is such a powerful guy! I haven't been able to hear his testimony or anything gospel related from him for a long time, let alone anything for the past couple months, so that was really cool to read his talk. I didn't get to listen to it though. He is really going to be a powerful missionary! Those were some great thoughts that he shared. I think I need to be more like him. Humility is tough! Pretty please tell him to send me at least one email before he leaves in 2 days. 

This week went by really fast and I am having a hard time remembering what we did! We did tons of service on saturday! We started off the morning by going to a spinnathon. Our stake President loves to cycle. He is sponsored by a team. The spinnathon was for charity and there were tons of people there. There was a huge canvas with probably more than a hundred cycle machines. The stake president and his friend cycled for 10 hours straight for 410 kilometres each! Stake president broke a record and raised R50,000 cause he broke 400 k's. He organized a team from our ward mostly of the YSA but we were at his house for lunch when he was organizing it and they needed 2 more on the team so he asked us! Since we were on a team we showed up at our appointed time and each cycled for an hour and then switched. Wow it was tough! I don't know if you have ever been in a cycling class at the gym but it was a lot like that. There was an instructor at the front telling us to up the resistance or stand up or what not. I was beat at the end! After that we went to the Josephs house. They are a member family, the same that had us over for my birthday. We are doing lots of projects for them. In the past we have built and mounted some cupboards, finished a coffee table and hung lights around the gutters of the house. On Saturday we built a brick wall around a drain in the corner of their yard so that they can raise the level of the grass. It's nice to be able to help them out. We usually go help them for like 2 hours every week. 

Leshego was confirmed this week since last week was stake conference. He was late to church but Stake President told us to confirm him during priesthood and he will be sustained next week. He is still continuing to make new friends at church and loves it! He will get to go to a YSA convention at the end of the month. 

The success with the members is getting better! We didn't get to teach many member lessons the past week but some came to us at church asking if we could come on certain days so now they are getting excited for us to come! We are also going to start a pretty sweet program involving PMG. We are gonna teach them a principle from it and give them chapters to study or an assignment. For example we will teach them lesson 1 and then they will study it and next week they will teach it to us. We will do it with 4 or 5 members at the same time and it will take like 2 months to complete. 

Wow, Sara is awesome! She one upped me! My turn, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! :D I hope it was a day to remember. I love you I love I love you! I'm sorry that all your goodbyes have to be so close to your bday(me going to college, Nate going to college, Nate going on mission) but you are gonna have the best birthday ever 2 years from now! ;) 

Till next week,
Love ya fam bam! 
-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, September 2, 2013

Powerful Convert

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Coon
Letter #92

Hey family!

Thanks for the email! ;) haha

The temple sounds like it was a really great experience! I def can't wait to watch the new movie. I heard that it is still only on the west coast right now. The Joburg Temple will possibly be very different the next time I get to visit after mission. I heard that they are going to close it for a while when the Durban Temple opens so that they can make some major renovations. That would be pretty sweet and I hope that what I heard is true!

I am wicked excited for a temple surf day!!! ough! It's gonna be nice. All is well in Pretoria. Can't say we've had a perfect day like that but things are happenin! Leshego is a powerful convert. We visited him last night. He sometimes calls us and asks us to visit so we go at night after all our lessons just before we go home. I think he really likes us to be around so that he can learn more and feel the spirit. He was telling us that he used to be so worried about obeying the commandments and that they just seemed so difficult, especially the law of chastity. He was scared and still is a bit that if he even talks to a girl for too long that it will lead to other things. He asked us, "If you keep the law of chastity too long won;t you turn gay?" He learned quite a bit about girls though since he started obeying the law of chastity. His desire for a relationship with a girl is now on the eternal perspective. complete opposite of when we met him. Powerful! He has made many huge changes in his life at the age of 20 and I look up to him tons. His friends and cousins tell him that he is boring cause he won't go drinking or clubbing with them but he tells them why and I can tell from the experiences he shares with us that he is looking forward to the celestial kingdom. The decision to get baptized was 100% his. We pushed him for a while and he kept getting cold feet but when he decided he wanted it he gave 110%. He knows that he has made a covenant with God and he is determined to hold his side of that.

This week we had a lot of cool experiences with the members. We were able to teach like 7 lessons to members this week. We go and teach them certain principles from the lessons in chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel. We haven't received any referrals to their friends yet but I know they will come. We have got a couple referrals to people that they have met at stores and stuff like that. Those people are always difficult to get in touch with but we are still going! the members are learning and growing though, that's for sure! We are gonna start doing this thing where we teach them a lesson and then next we come back and they teach the lesson to us. Should be cool!

We had Stake Conference yesterday and the Sunnyside ward was there so I got to say hi to a bunch of people from that ward. They always always always ask if Sara is still waiting and I say "Nope, I'm waiting." ha. Lots of those people though, especially the kids, look sooo different and have grown up tons! it's weird. And it's gonna be even weirder when I get home....eish man.

I will finally get to go to the temple again at the end of this month! I have been waiting forever cause It's been closed. I think it's been like 6 months or more. I cannot wait. thanks for sharing your experiences going to the temple Dad. Receiving answers like that is an amazing experience!

I love you!
Be superstars!

-Elder Dirkmaat

Monday, August 26, 2013

Waters of Baptism

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Coon
Letter #91

Dear family,

Well my new companion is Elder Coon from Oregon. He was my district leader for 6 months in Joburg and now we are companions for his last 5 weeks! ha-ha. We are already having a great time together as companions since we already knew each other for such a long time. He is determined not to get lazy at the end which is perfect cause that's exactly what I want to do. I don't know how I could have a good final interview with President if I was lazy for the last part of my mission.

We have tons of good work to do here though! We just had a baptism for Leshego yesterday which was awesome cause the bishop organized a linger longer afterwards so that many of the members would be able to support him.

It's always so cool to be with them just before we go down into the water and see how nervous and excited they are and then afterwards how calm and happy they are. Leshego invited many of his family to attend his baptism and 2 of them loved the church. They were going around meeting all the members at the linger longer and telling them that they are going to be back next week. Super cool! Baptisms are such a good way for people to come and experience the church.

Bantu also enjoyed the baptism very much. He has already invited his entire family to his baptism which will be Sept 22nd. Yesterday he was able to bring his daughter. she couldn't stop smiling the whole time. It was a really good Sunday to be in the Pretoria ward for sure.

MonaLisa is even progressing again., she wasn't able to come to church for like 4 weeks but now she has been twice in a row and we gave her a baptism date for October. She wants to be baptized so bad and I just hope that her job can stay stable and that she doesn't have any more problems with her car. She is reading the book of Mormon for the third time already!

Thanks for the cool scripture that you sent me last week (D&C 29 4-7). It really did help me. I kind of regressed in my communication skills when I came to this area but I think that I am getting them back and gaining the same kind of confidence that I had when I was in the township and city and village. I love the part that says you are chosen out of the world cause when you realize what that means you have no thought for what other people think about you. You share the truth with the name of Jesus Christ on your chest. Even our baptismal covenants tell us that we need to take upon ourselves His name. I sometimes get scared to talk to people cause I am prideful and don't want them to not like me. Dumb reason! Sometimes I am scared to make the right choice or to be an example cause I want the crowd to like me. We are chosen out of the world to be an example to them and to help them return to the fold of Him who loves us most. When we do things to please Him we are doing ourselves a favor and preparing to live for eternity in celestial glory and doing others a favor by helping them also receive that blessing.

I hope you all have a great week! The restored gospel is true and we all have a responsibility to share it!

Love you all!
-Elder Dirkmaat

Monday, August 19, 2013

When Your Ready

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Center
Letter #90

Hello's! 

That's sweet Nate will be going to the temple soon! What day are you going? I have heard about the new movie but I haven't sen it yet. The temple has been closed for a while. It opens again in the middle of september I think. 

Elder Center is  being transferred tomorrow morning and I'm pretty sure that I will finish here in Pretoria. He was pretty sad that he's going. We got to do a lot of good work and we even have a baptism next week and next month! Leshego next week and Bantu next month. 

Leshego finally feels ready and more comfortable. He said previously he had a lot of doubts but now he doesn't have any and he is ready. When people are really ready you can always tell the difference. He was even telling us the difference that he can feel. He's been taught by missioanries in the past but he never paid attention or aything and now he says he can't forget the things that we teach or ask him to do even if he tried because he knows it's true and it is what he has to do. 

On Saturday we did a helping hands project at a disabled home. There were like 50-60 members that showed up to help them make arts and crafts, braai some boerewors, and paint a courtyard so that they can have a nice place to display all the art they make. We usaully go there every tuesday morning to help the relief society since they are the ones that organized the art class. It's a super cool experience to go there and help them. They are always so lonely and even if we just come to give them company and talk to them they are super excited. They loved it when we all came on Saturday. Bantu even came and while he was there he got to meet the Stake President and the next day Pres Boshoff (Since he was bishop it was Bishop Alexander and now it is Bishop Heydenrych) introduced him to Elder Dale G.Renlund who came to visit. Bantu said he was so overwhelmed and confused as to why he was meeting all the "high up" people. We explained to him that people just get really excited when they find out that we have a super investigator and they want to fellowship as much as they can. Bantu is a really funny and sincere guy. I wish so bad that you could meet him! 

(In case you don't know what it means to braai boerewores, it's a South African BBQ)

Yes we are teaching mostly blacks which is no problem. We teach anybody that we can and I think the members even understand that finding white people to teach is very difficult. I think it helps that we have good friendships with a lot of them. They are starting to help us quite a bit and offer their time to help out. One member referred us to teach his gardener and then yesterday he brought a guy to church. He seemed to really enjoy it. he was smiling the whole time and paying attention to the lessons.

Remember how in Elders Quorum in La Costa they used to hand out the BOM every week? I started doing it here. The Bishop took it last week and Br. Du Plessis took it this week and gave it straight to the friend that he brought! We had a record number of lessons this week... 10!! haha. Things are getting better. Even with the 40 day fast we are starting to be able to teach more lessons to members and President Omer has decided to make it one of our key indicators starting next week! 

I'm pretty excited to be here in Pretoria at this time. Things have been getting a lot better and the ward is awesome!

Keep helping Nate and tell him to reply to emails or at least write to me and tell me whats up! 

Loves! '
-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, August 12, 2013

Service - Being a Missionary 100%

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Center
Letter #89

Wow! Thanks for the pics of the awesome vacation!! I did get a petty good taste of it haha. No worries about not emailing last week and I'm also sorry for not emailing you. I'll keep it short today cause I wanna email Nate. Thanks also for the bday wishes! I didn't get the package yet but I'll probs get it tomorrow at zone conference. I'm super excited for zone conference cause we are finally going to get to watch that missionary fireside broadcast from like 2 months ago. I think it is gonna be very helpful for all the missioanaries here in SA. 

Pretoria is doing pretty well. I wish I could say that we are rockin it but not so much. We are doing okay but the work is pretty slow. So far the 40 day fast is great and the members have been doing super and don't even need our reminder calls. We are getting close to receiving some referrals. One family has a friend that is studying to be a doctor and he's 19 years old. They say that he's golden I just don't know when we are gonna receive this golden referral haha. Leshego is struggling with his decision to be baptized. Every time the day comes closer he postpones and says that he is not ready. He has a tough time understanding everything in the BOM so we are gonna read with him a chapter every time we go before we start the lesson. He is really changing a lot so much that his parents can tell that he is a better person and he says that he wants to be baptized but that he's just nervous he'll mess up afterwards. We shall see what we can do this week. 

I think maybe I need to step it up a notch and maybe I'm not being as faithful and diligent as I could be. I have seen a lot of missionaries when they are going home, they "die". They just get lazy and don't work as hard. I really don't want to do that but I feel like maybe I am a little bit. I always feel so much more excited about the work and have lots of things to say when I am working 100%. This week I will be 100%!   90% is not good enough! One of my favorite quotes from the movie Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration is when he says "Remember, only the best for the Lord. We are not just building a temple here, the Lord is building us." Only the best and that's what I need to give! 

We got to do some exciting service this week. A sad reason though. An investigator that the Elders teach in Mamelodi came home drunk one night and burned down the shack he stays in and the one next to his. The next day we went to clean up all the mess and we rebuilt one of the shacks. It was super fun to do and we got to something that probably so many south africans have never done! It took half the day from like 9 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon. The family was so grateful that we helped and they even tried to call the local newspaper to come and report it ha. The guy who came home drunk said he knew exactly why it happened. He had just been taught some of the commandments and he went out and disobeyed. It was great that he recognized that and hopefully that will set his repentance in motion! 

Have a great week!
Love you!
Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, July 29, 2013

I Love Being a Missionary!

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Center
Letter #88

What's up family!? It was sweet to hear from y'all! Thanks! The fact that you were all at the beach made me super jealous, but guess what?? I'll be there next time! Can't wait to to go to the new campsite.

Elder Center and I have been seeing great changes in our area and even in the whole zone. When I got here there were three dying missionaries all going home on the same day and they were all literally dead in a
missionary sense, so we've been doing a lot of re-building. We only have 12 missionaries in the zone so basically half the zone was not doing well. We are well on track to achieving the mission vision of
every companionship baptizing at least once a month which is awesome! Dad, you talked abut how misisonary work is not abut baptizing people but about getting them to the temple and that is 100%. If you baptize somebody that you're not sure if they're gonna make it to the temple then they are definitely not ready! Currently in this are we have not been having any baptisms but I keep hearing stories of people that I
taught in my past areas that have been getting baptized which is super cool. I wish i could be there to see them but it makes me so happy jsut to hear that thye finally made it instead of "yeah, we dropped that guy" ha.

We have started to have quite a bit of success lately. It hasn't been from our finding or from the members that we have visited but it has been completely random people. A few minutes ago a member that I've
only met but never really talked to called us and gave us a referral. he said that he was talking to some guys who are catholic and were complaining that their church cold not give them answers to the
questions that they had. He told them "hey, I know some guys that can come over and give you all the answers you need" They accepted and we are gonna give them a call very soon! It seems that just the
committment of the ward to do this 40 day fast is already producing blessings! The fast doens't startuntil the 1st of August! Just cause we don't see results from the tracting and handing out passalong cards
and v isiting members that we do, Heavenlyt Father sees the work that we are doign and sends those whoa er ready to us whether we have talked to them or not. I feel like the members are really starting to
gain our trust and will give us more people to teach. the bishop this week said that every time we have a baptism he is going to organize a linger longer so that more people will stay to watch the baptisms. I
think he is super excited that we actually have some baptisms coming up. I love it when the leaders of the ward start to catch the wave of missionary work and encourage the rest of the members to help!

It's sad that I will be coming home pretty soon but I am pretty excited too cause there is so much to do! I for sure will not stop being a missionary and sharing the gospel with all that I can. I am
def the same person but now that I have a greater knowledge of the gospel and have seen the expereinces of others who have received it who never knew it previously, I think I understand better why it is so
important. I'm so thankful that I have all of you, an awesome family that I can look forward to spending time with, having loads of fun, and preparing to go live in the celestial kingdom! Some people would
think that the more dedicated you become to the gospel the less fun you can have but it is really the opposite! When yo are living a good life, helping others, changing your own bad habits and just generally doing good things you feel free and more able to enjoy all the great blessings that God has given us. Surfing is a blessing that He has given us and I am gonna be a better surfer than Nate when he gets home! :P The church is also a blessing that he has given and I hope to never fail in a calling that I receive and to partake of the sacrament every single week until I die!

Have a radical week! I love you guys!
-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Elder Jenkinson says that I need to say radical more cause I'm a surfer haha

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Missionary Miracles

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Center
Letter #87

Hey there family!

Well this week was awesome. Let me just share a little miracle that happened.

President Omer always tells us that if we are not experiencing miracles in our service then we are living far below our privileges and abilities as His chosen servants. How cool is that?? We are entitled to see miracles as a result of our diligence and faithfulness. This week we experienced a miracle. It's funny that they always happen to others and due to the changes that they make, and we are just there to help them along the way. anyway, Bantu was watching SABC (a news channel/tv show channel) and he saw a program about the Mormons. He got really interested and looked it up online, found a chapel in Centurion(Del Mar to Encinitas is the same as Centurion to Pretoria), drove to it the next day and found the groundskeeper who told him to come back the next morning, so he did. When he got there he found some members and one of them took the time to talk to him and show him around the chapel. The member called us and gave us his details. We called him and were in his home that evening. He told us that he has been searching for the truth since 2005(?) when he became a christian and hasn't been able to find it. His son was there as well and had the same feelings. He had already read about Joseph Smith online and knew a lot and told us that he feels like he has finally found the right place. We went back on Saturday and he was already into 2nd Nephi and before we even started the lesson he said, "Guys I am going to be baptized in this church. Do you know when I will be baptized? Let me tell you. Joseph Smith received the plates of gold on the 22nd of September. I was born on the 22nd of September which was a Sunday. This year I am turning 50 and it will be a Sunday. i want to be baptized on the 22nd of September." then he asked if it was alright and of course we said yes. As we were teaching the lesson his son asked how he can know if these things are true and Bantu told him. "Son, you must pray about it and ask God to show you. that's what Joseph Smith did, that's what I did, that's what these Elders have done." He bore his testimony of the Book of Mormon and it was almost like we had a member present lesson. THEN when he came to church on Sunday he received more fellowship from the members than I have ever seen my entire mission! He came a couple mins late and sat next to the relief society president during Sacrament and met the Bishop, High Priest Group Leader, and Stake Patriarch before we even got to him from across the chapel! Before the end of the three hours he had met the entire bishopric and the Elders Quorum President. He was the happiest guy on Earth!

Miracles are real and hopefully they are happening often in our lives! They don't have to be big ones but the ones that really matter are the ones that change hearts and give testimonies and opportunities. They always happen at the right time and for the right reason. Remember what we learn from the Book of Mormon. i can't look it up so it's gonna be off a bit... "Have miracles ceased? I say unto you nay. And if they have wo be unto the children of men for it is by faith that miracles are wrought." That's probably a terrible paraphrase but that's the jist of it!

I love being a missionary and seeing things like this. When somebody is prepared and is bale to receive a testimony of the truth is something amazing. I know that the gospel is true and that it has been restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. Jesus Christ is our saviour and Heavenly Father loves us so much that he sent His son to atone for us and allow us the opportunity to return and live with Him in eternal happiness!

Have fantastic week! Stay Classy! Love ya!

-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bok & Fowl on the Golf Course!

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Center
Letter #87

Hey there!

So I guess you got both of my emails from last week. Good Deal. A new Bishopric eh? That's sweet! Now everybody is different than when I left! I remember that there was talk of splitting the wards again, is that still a possibility? Or was there never even talk of that? ha.

A couple weeks ago you asked if I was at the activity in Kwa Guqa. No I was not, we only get to go there like twice in a transfer. Cool fact though... The bishop there is from France. He served here and came back to marry a girl and now they live in the township that she grew up in. He is a super chef and cooked us some nice lasagna when we went there a month ago.

That was a sweet experience that Br. Holmes had! Miracles are always happening! This week we were super excited for Mona Lisa. She had some plans for the weekend but we really had to have an interview for her baptism and it is really important not to miss church the couple weeks before your baptism. She decided that her baptism was important enough that she could change her plans and travel to Joburg after her baptism and confirmation. Well, we were able to have the interview and she was solid of course but then there were transport issues on Sunday and she wasn't able to make it. Such a bummer when things like that happen. We haven't been able to visit her yet but we are probably gonna have to postpone her baptism to August.

Even though we don't have many people to teach we still have awesome people to teach! Mona Lisa is almost done with the Book of Mormon for the Second time and has started doing her home showings on Saturday instead of Sunday (She is a Realtor). Lesego is committed to be baptized in August as well. We taught him the Law of Chastity this week and he said it will be difficult but that he can do it. Obviously that is a huge problem with people his age these days so he doesn't have much support but he says he will do it. He met with the Bishop on Sunday and Bishop took off the tie he was wearing and gave it to Lesego, it was even one of his favorites! Maybe it was his reward for wearing a white shirt and taking out his earrings ha. William is still powerful even though we still don't have a way for him to get to church on Sunday. We have a Kilometer limit so we were not able to make it to visit him this week but when we told him he said he will do his best to continue learning and reading on his own and that his biggest concern was that he wants to come to church so that he can unite himself with the church of Christ and be of service to Him. The guy in our ward who stays close to him is also having difficulties coming to church cause of the tough economic times and has to work on Sundays right now. I really hope and pray that we can figure something out soon! 

Sophie,. I haven't seen many interesting animals lately cause I'm in the suburbs but, we did go golfing today and there were some Gemsbok and Springbok and one other Bok and some Guinea Fowl on the course! How cool is that!?
Gemsbok

Springbok

Guinea Fowl

Ollie: I have had many doors slammed in my face! This week a guy drove by, stopped, reversed, rolled down his window and I said "Hallo, Oogandit?" and he said "You guys need to take your funny nonsense somewhere else! You don't believe in the Bible! You are in a false church!" I think it is hilarious when people do that. I wish it was possible to talk to them, I try, but they are just too full of anger and all I can do is laugh when they are gone. This must be the ONLY true church on the face of the earth if Satan puts so much effort into filling peoples hearts with anger only against us. I probs won't be able to get you a parrot. I can't believe you still remember that! Honestly, I only said that so you would stop crying your face off. ;) But I'll see what I can do. I'm not sure how many I've baptized. I have a list of all the names and addresses so when i get home I'll show it to ya and you can count it. Deal? 

One more thing, we finally got the idea of teaching members the lessons in their homes down! We passed out a sheet and people signed up that we will visit this week and even when Elder Bricknell came and taught priesthood last week he told us that instead of sharing spiritual thoughts after dinner we will teach short lessons. It's pretty sweet and we have enjoyed it! Hopefully this will work for us to be able to get more referrals! We got to teach 3 this past week. 

Well that's all I've got. Oh, I got the package! Thank you! The Eggo's were destroyed and completely rotten but everything else was great. Still enjoying it! 

Love you!
-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ek is dors! Kan ek water kry?

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Center
Letter #86

Hey there!

So the subject is my phrase of the week. I have a small book that gives some phrases in Afrikaans and for some reason that is the phrase that I could remember the most. It means, "I am thirsty. Can I have some water?" 

It's been a pretty good time here in Pretoria. We could possibly have 2 baptisms by the end of this month for Mona Lisa and Lesego! Mona Lisa had a difficult time coming to church for the first few weeks I was here but now she has come three times and we are planning to have her baptism on the 28th. When we taught her the word of wisdom a while back we found out that she was doing 3 of the five no-no's and we thought it was gonna be a huge challenge but she has completely stopped everything! her biggest problem, used to be smoking but she hasn't had a cigarette for a month now! Powerful! Yesterday at church we saw her talking to like 5 or 6 different people and it seems like she is really becoming apart of the ward now which is awesome. Lesego is also gonna be ready for the 28th. He is really serious about deciding if this is the right thing for him and last time seemed like a tuning point in his decision. He let us know that he was really scared that he was signing a contract with God, which is correct, but the thing he is scared of is if he makes a mistake after baptism. He felt like he had to be perfect and no longer mess up otherwise he would be "fired" immediately. We helped him understand and it really eased him. We helped him understand that repentance is a continuing process for the rest of our lives and that if he messes up it is not the end of the world. I think all of his mistakes and things he knew he had to work on started to pile up and he got overwhelmed with it all. I'm glad that he was able to understand. He is a powerful young man and I know that he is definitely on the path of conversion. Sometimes he tells us how sorry he is that he is always asking questions and tings like that and we always tel him how great it is that he does that. It really is a blessing that he will voice his concerns and tell us when he doesn't understand cause there is nothing harder than teaching somebody who has absolutely no concerns and questions and you have no idea whether or not the person is ready.

We got to visit William again yesterday and he was excited again to see us. During the week he asked us if we could get a nice leather quad for him and that he would pay for it. We got it and he said it felt like Christmas when we gave it to him. Right when we got to his house there were some Jehovah's Witnesses leaving and we were kinda worried and thinking, "what is this guy up to now?" We found out that they were just there to visit the owner of the house and she had asked him to sit in the lesson with them. He even asked them what they thought about the Book of Mormon and some other questions that he had asked us last time. Turns out he was not satisfied. He told us that when he talked to that missionary in Durban and when he learns from us it is the first time that anything about the gospel coming from anywhere but the bible has ever made so much perfect sense to him. He really has been prepared to receive the gospel at this time. His only problem is still going to be transport since he stays so far away.

Yesterday we were handing out cards at the robots and a guy drives up and says "How many wives you got?" I was so tempted to say "3, and you wanna know a secret, every time I baptize somebody I get another one." I told him the truth though and it was funny cause he was completely lost for words. The light stayed red for a long time so we got to talk to a few people. I walked by one guy and he didn't take the card and a little bit later he pulled up next to us and started asking us questions and became very interested. He said that he wanted to invite us for coffee one day and talk about the things we told him some more. I said, "sure that would be great, we do this everyday!" Not thinking about the coffee part, and then he says "You do coffee everyday?" oops. I really hope that he calls. His wife was in the car and I think they had 3 young children as well.

I guess that's all for this week. Elder Center and I will be together for another 6 weeks as we just got the news on Saturday. Cool deal!

Have a super week! Jealous I didn't get to go kayaking and snorkeling!!

-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, July 1, 2013

Miracle of the Transfer

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Center
Letter #85

Hey there! the writer that we met is Nico Van Der Merwe. He has a pretty sweet pharmacy business and hearing aid distribution...thing. We are gonna wait maybe another week or 2 before we go back.

I'm just gonna tell you about one happening this week cause it was definitely the best thing that happened.

We got a referral from the temple about 3 or 4 weeks back and we called the guy, his name is William. It turns out that he stays like 100 k's away but there is another member of our ward who stays kind of close by so we figured it's in our area. We tried to make appointments with him but it never worked out cause he got busy and one week he got sick. Finally yesterday we were able to drive out and meet him. We had to follow some pretty crazy directions and we didn't make a single wrong turn and made it there 5 mins before 3(the scheduled time). On the phone he had told that he was very sorry he had to cancel and that he really was very serious about us coming to teach him more about the gospel. So we finally go there and he told us how he found out about the church. This is his story. He was in Durban on business and somebody dropped their carrying bag so he picked it up and ran it over to the guy. When he turned around he saw that the guy had a name tag on and he turned out to be a missionary from our church. he started to ask him some questions and we don't know exactly what they talked about, it was brief only like 5 mins., but something that the elder said really touched his heart and made sense compared with everything that he had read in the Bible. A month later when he was back home he looked up 'Mormons South Africa" on goggle because that was the only ting he could remember. He called the first number and it turned out to be the temple! Finally a month later we got to visit him! We tried to teach him the message of the restoration but he already knew everything! We would share the beginning of one of the points and he would take his Bible and teach us the rest of the point! He knew everything except that the gospel has been restored through Joseph Smith and he basically knew everything about the plan of Salvation except for the spirit world after death and the three degrees of glory. he even knows that we all came here to become Gods like God is a god and that our families area a representation of God's eternal family. this guy knew all of these things and he had only been able to study from the Bible. We gave him a Book of Mormon and i'm sure that when he reads all the things that he has put together already will become so much clearer. He doesn't go to church cause he doesn't feel right about any of them but he says that he has already felt the spirit tell him that the things we are sharing with him are true!

That was our miracle of the transfer. We can get a million doors slammed in our faces and insults thrown at us all day long but for God to lead someone that prepared to find the missionaries throws all the bad things that have happened in the trash to be remembered no more...except the funny ones. I have never felt offended or discouraged about people not accepting our message; it just makes me feel so sorry for them and I always remember that only the elect will receive and even then, the very elect will be deceived. We are sent out to find the 5 percent who will accept. William is one of those 5 percent.

I just got an email from a recent convert in Voslo and at the end he signed "your future missionary". That's what it's all about! :D I've received many emails from recent converts and it always makes my day when they say things like that. So stoked that I've been able to help people become converted to the restored and true gospel of Jesus Christ and that He has given me another opportunity to teach one of his prepared children! Siyabonga! Baie Dankie! Ke a leboga! Merci beaucoup! Muchas Gracias!

I hope that you have a powerful week! Missionary work is the best! I love you!

-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, June 24, 2013

Catch the Wave

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Center
Letter #84
We had a fireside on sunday which we were super excited for but hardly anybody came. At church there were about 150. Then we had a linger longer and about 60 came to that and the fireside was after that and about 50 came to that. The 40 that didn't really even need the kick in the pants. ha. I think I have tracted more this week than any other week of  my mission which has been pretty fun but no results so far. Sorry to be complainy but I promise I am still happy and positive! i am still working and hoping that members will catch the wave and that some things will open up! We are still gonna have 2 baptisms in july or August which is gonna be sweet and we get dinner almost every day! haha. 

We met a famous writer the other day. We tracted his house and he wasn't interested but Elder Center asked him one last question and the guy said, " I have a book for you guys, would you like it? " We said yes and when he came back out with it we traded him for a Book of Mormon. We walked down the street opened it and found his picture and his signature! We are gona read the book and go back and tell we read it. Most of the stuff he wrote about correlates so well with the Book of Mormon and I know if he will read it he will notice and see that it is true! 

Being a zone leader is interesting. When I was a district leader there wasn't really any disobedience or anything but here there are some missionaries that aren't always doing what they are supposed to and it is difficult to set them on the right course. It's a small zone, only 12 missionaries including us.It's not bad things they are doing but just leaving the flat late or getting home really early. A couple of the companionships are not getting along very well and I'm not really too sure how you help a companionship get on except by telling them they need to serve their companions and focus on not doing the things that bug the other guy. We got to go on lots of exchanges the past few weeks which is fun. When we get to go to Kwqa-Guqa it feels like i'm in botswana again. We have to drive 100 kilometres to get there! 

I'm sure that if we just keep on keepin on something will happen and the missionary work will explode. We are going to be passing out the sheet for members to sign up for the missionary lessons next sunday since we had the fireside this sunday. 

Nate's mission is coming up very fast! he's gonna be gone before we all know it! I thought September sounded forever away but it seems close now. 

Well, have a great week! Love ya fam bam!

-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, June 17, 2013

Happy Fathers Day!!

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Center
Letter #83

Hello family!

Thanks for all the stuff that you have shared with me! Isn't the gospel so true! That was a cool video about fathers. On Sunday for priesthood the bishop had us go to the young men's classes to help them prepare to be missionaries. The bishop taught the lesson about being a father and it was interesting how he related the young men's quorum to preparing to be fathers. I always kind of knew it but now I realized it more fully. He said that that's what the young men's quorum is preparing them to be and that they need to pray and work to develop the qualities of the kind of father that God wants us to be. Just like the video said, What better way to do that than by following Heavenly Fathers very example! Happy Fathers Day Dad! :D I heard that it was a great day so I'm happy! haha. You are the best! I love you!

This week was a nice week. We are still having it tough tying to find people to teach. Most of the houses are in gated communities so we can't tract a whole lot. The ward is not too excited about missionary work right now either so we are still working with that. We are gonna have a little fireside on Sunday with some powerful speakers! We are gonna have a linger longer just before it so that lots of people will stay and not have an excuse to go home ;) Another thing that we are gonna do is kind of like what the missionaries did just before I left. Going to teach the families in the ward the first three lessons. I thought that was a cool idea so we are gonna send a sign up sheet around next week.

As we were passing out cards the other day one guy tried to offer me money thinking we were looking for donations or something and another guy offered us a bag of chips which was much needed. We were dying of hunger! More especially Elder Center ha. Passing out cards is pretty fun but sometimes I just get really confused. How can a guy who has a bumper sticker that says "real men follow Jesus" refuse to take a card with a picture of Jesus on it?!?!?!?!? It makes absolutely no sense. I just say to myself when we tract and hand out cards "We are searching for the elect and humble who will accept the gospel." Right now it seems like the bait has been pulled a few times but the hook just hasn't got caught yet. It's close, so close! Did the missionaries there pass out cards? I dunno if they know how to do it cause I've never seen it the way we do it until I came here to SA. I also don't know if it's legal there. ha.

We are teaching Lesego still and he is loving the gospel more and more every time we go visit him. In church he is starting to ask lots of questions. He's one of those people that you can just tell he is learning so much compared to those people who just listen to you and nod their head. There is lots of work to do in this area and hopefully I will have more stories for you!

That's all I really have for this week. I know that the gospel is true. Nobody can tell me otherwise. I am so thankful that i have an awesome family like you to support me and help me to be where I am now! Keep safe and always share your testimony! There are missionary opportunities everywhere you go!

I love you!
-Elder Dirkmaat. :D

Monday, June 10, 2013

Oogandit?

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Center
Letter #82

Oogandit?

Hey there! I hope you have a super time at Big Bear! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!! tomorrow. I can't believe you've still not taken me snowboarding... :P Ha. It's fine, when I get back I'll just go without ya! jk, I won't go without ya cause that would be boring.

The stake challenge sounds really cool! I'll try to do it as well. I can't start over reading the BOM though. I only have 4 books left! In our stake we are doing the 40 day fast idea that you told me about. Just before I got here the ward mission leader suggested it so Elder Center and I and the Bishop had planned to start it June 30th and have a fireside to kick it off June 23rd. Then the ward mission leader got called as the stake mission rep and he told the idea to the Stake Pres and he wanted to take it over and do it for the entire stake! It's pretty exciting and I hope we have as much success as you did! The stake mission leader is a guy from Louisiana that is here in a contract to build a power-plant. He's here with his whole family, wife and 2 kids, and they are a huge blessing to this ward and stake! There are some other American families in the ward but they don't come to church and I haven't even met them yet. It's sad to hear that. We are still having a hard time finding more people to teach but we have upped our lesson total of 3 my first week to 7 this week!

We went to a fair to help a member setup their daughters booth my first Friday here and we met a cool family. This guy walked up to us and said "Hello Elders! How are you?" Obviously we were surprised and we talked to him for a bit and found out that his parents had joined the church when he was young and he went to church up until he was like 16 i think and then he stopped. He told us that he would love for us to come visit him one day when we are in the area just to get a cool drink or a bite to eat but not to teach ha. So on Saturday we went to his place and he was there and we got to have a cool drink and talk to him for a bit and get to know him and his wife. They are a really nice family. He says that when he saw us it brought back memories of when the Elders used to come to his house and all the good times that they had and so he wanted us to come and hopes that his kids could also have some of the same memories. We enjoyed the visit a lot but there was only one problem. He said towards the end after he invited us to dinner the next week that we can come and visit all we want but he doesn't want to hear the gospel. That he has been there and heard it and he knows all about it. he says we can answer his kids questions and all that but we cannot start discussions of the gospel. :( Then his wife said something like Well i would love to debate with you and talk about your views. He told us that she debated with his parents when they go visit him. We were super bummed when they said these things cause they are a family that would love the gospel if they were willing to accept it. They have 3 beautiful children, a wonderful place to live in and are so kind to the missionaries. Just not the gospel. We will continue to visit them and see what we can do but it's more of a situation where they need a good friend in the church who is always there and eventually they start to ask their questions and see the truth of the message we share years later.

We are teaching another guy, Lesego, who is 20 years old. He lives with his parents who are both members and his mother is a fairly recent convert. the only reason he was not baptized is cause he was away at boarding school when she received the gospel. He loves to learn from us and asks tons of questions. We can really tell that he has a sincere desire to learn the restored gospel. The only problem is that I hope he will be able to dedicate himself to reading the BOM as much as he has dedicated himself to gaming!

It's weird to be in this area still. We had more dinner/lunch appointments than we had lessons ha. I still have to get used to being around so many white people.

The future looks fantastic though! We are slowly building the area back up!

Have super week!
I love you!
-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, June 3, 2013

New Area

Area- Pretoria, South Africa
Companion- Elder Center
Letter #81

Hey Hey Hey!
I'm now back in Pretoria! This time I'm the the Pretoria 2nd ward and it's in a different zone even though it borders the Sunnyside ward. It's gonna be a  learning experience for sure! The ward is predominantly white which is different. The communication is different and I almost feel like a greenie again cause I'm different again! I hope this is not gonna be how it feels to go home! I'm gonna be a weirdo!

My companion is Elder Center from Ely, Nevada. He grew up on a farm and is a total country boy with a big truck and all! ha. His previous companion was from Australia and also was a surfer. We get along really well so far and I think we'll be able to do some good work! He's been on mission for 15 months but he's 9 days older than me. 

So far we have taught 3 lessons, 5 or 6 dinner appointments and tracted a lot. Lots of people like to hand out flyers at the stop lights so we decided to also do that on Saturday. We handed out 59 pass along cards in almost an hour! When we went to church the next day we found out that at least  the members had seen us doing it and they thought it was cool except for one of the youth that is preparing to be a missionary. He thought we were crazy and he said he doesn't want to go on mission if he has to do things like that. Hahaha. We even got two phone calls within an hour of passing them out and got to deliver 2 free dvd's! That was cool and I think we'll do it again and even bring some of the young men along to help us. It's nice to do that instead of tract cause more people are able to see us and we get to give the details to more people. We still gotta tract but I enjoyed doing that. 

I really hope that everybody in Vosloorus is still doing well. It was a bummer to have to leave after only 3 months. Now this might be my last area and it will be for 6 months! 

I don't really have too much to say except that I love you and I'm glad to hear all the stories from home! Keep learning and growing in the gospel! I hope when I'm your age I'll be solid members like you! Ollie is gonna be the star running back when he's in high school!
Have a super week! 
-Elder Dirkmaat :D

Monday, May 27, 2013

Becoming a Zone Leader!

Area- Vosloorus, South Africa
Companion- Elder Kelebogile
Letter #80


The Baptism for Sinethemba!

Here's a story I read during my talk a few months back.

MY FRIEND
Given during testimony meeting in 1970's

"Brothers and Sisters, as you know, I have been awaiting my mission call. During the time I was waiting I had a dream. I know it was not an ordinary dream. I dreamed I was in the pre-existence and I was awaiting my call to come to Earth. I was filled with the same excitement and anticipation that I had before I received my mission call. In my dream I was talking to a friend. He was a very dear friend to me and I felt a special closeness to him even though I have never met him in this life. As we talked, a messenger came and gave me a letter. I knew it my call to go to Earth. In great excitement my friend and I opened the letter. I gave it to him to read a loud. The letter said, ' You have been called to Earth in a special time and to a special land. You will be born into the true church and you will have the priesthood of God in your home. You will be raised with many advantages and blessings. You will be born in a land of plenty and a land of freedom. You will go to Earth in the United States of America.' My friend and I rejoiced. The messenger returned. This time he had a letter for my friend. We knew it was his call to go to Earth. My friend gave me the letter to read a loud. The letter said, ' You have been called to go to Earth in the circumstances of poverty and strife. you will not be raised in the true church. Many hardships will attend your life. Your land will be fraught with political and social difficulties which will hinder the work of the Lord. You will be born in Costa Rica.' We wept, my friend and I, as we read this call; and my friend looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, 'When you are down on Earth, you in your choice land and me in Costa Rica, my friend, come and find me.'

"Then this young missionary with tears in his eyes said, 'Brothers and sisters, I have received my mission call. I am going to Costa Rica.'

There is a sequel to this story. About a year and half after this sacrament meeting the bishop in this ward received a letter from the missionary in Costa Rica. The letter had one sheet of paper in it and on that sheet, in high letters, was written four words: 'I FOUND MY FRIEND'"

Hello's!

You always have so many fun things to do! I'm so happy for that and I hope it continues when I get back! haha. Thanks for sending the pics and the stories. Ollie and Sophie are huge and I think those glasses fit Sophie well. ;D

I hope you are all choosing to be happy as well! Did you send that story to Nate? It's funny you made that example about marriage cause last night we were visiting one of the families in the ward so that I could say goodbye to them and they started to give me marriage advice and everything they said sounded it like it could have come straight from you(mom and dad). That's one thing I have been learning about missionary work though is that everything I am doing is preparing me for everything that I am going to do for the rest of my life. Even something that Sara just wrote to me about that we have preparing for missionary service since before we were here on this Earth and it's true! All the things that we learned and callings we received before were preparing us for now and the things we learn now and the callings we receive are preparing us for the eternities! What a cool thought to have. Thinking about the talk Pres Uchtdorf gave where he made the example of him and his wife riding bicycles. We need to choose to be happy and enjoy what we have and every situation that we are. On top of that, the only way to be happy is to follow the example of Jesus Christ. I'm sure he would have been the kind of person to choose to be happy always just like Jerry. Funny enough, I have noticed that happening with brother Manana over the past couple weeks. He has been more happy every time we see him and I'm sure it is because he is finally learning the gospel of Jesus Christ and Hearkening to what we are teaching him rather than just letting us come in a listening to us. I'm almost positive he will be baptized in the next month or two! I'm just bummed I wont be here to see it!

Yes, I won't be here because I'm getting transferred after only 3 months! I'm becoming a zone leader and maybe I'll be going to Bots! Probably not though. Elder Wilkinson is training already! I'm a grand-daddy! and elder Jenkinson is a great grand daddy! ha. I'll let ya know next week where I am!

Love you!
Elder Bobby Dirkmaat :D

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Photos!

Here are some pictures taken by Brother Gruen.  He is from my home ward in California, I saw him at the Johannesburg Temple!

Me and my companion, Elder Kelebogile


Left to right:  Me, Elder Kelebogile (my companion), Elder Laban, and Elder Max

Me, Elder Max, Elder Kelebogile, Elder Laban

Me and my companion, Elder Kelebogile

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Plan of Salvation

Area- Vosloorus, South Africa
Companion- Elder Kelebogile
Letter #79

Family :D! How are you!?

Soooo I read the book you sent me this week (The Engine 2 Diet) and now I feel bad about my list from last week. I still want it all! But I realize how you must feel sending that stuff ha. You can consider me a progressing investigator though. Based on the fact that I kept the unspoken commitment to read it and that I have shared it with my fellow missionaries. So far the only defense they have is "Well I need my protein" and "I love my meat" which we all know are lame excuses...If you've read the book. I'll have you know that I can't progress any farther until I get home. I still feel bad every time I eat things that are "not approved" but the change will have to come at a future date. Let me add some things to my order list though. I need more of those pens(Pilot G2 0.38) and that chap-stick(Ocean Potion).

Thanks for the sweet pictures! Can't wait to take a spin on the Green Machine! When was the last Daddy Daughter Dance? It seems like you just barely went to one. Ollie is gonna be a pro surfer pretty soon! I hope that story gets published! You'll have to let me know cause that would be awesome. Also I am so down for the surf trip before I go back to school! Hopefully my skills can cope with the quality of the waves. Eric told me he got to go surf in Kaui'i and that he saved some waves for me. Another trip in the making? haha.

So here's the best part of the week...Besides the fact that every week is awesome and missionary work is the best. We went to see Br. Manana on Tues and we came in while he was busy watching "Our Heavenly Fathers Plan", one of the church movies about the Plan of Salvation. For the past weeks we have been going to his home to be friends with him, read chapters from the Book of Mormon and just help him feel the spirit. We decided that we are just gonna wait until he tells us that he wants to be baptized. The only problem is that we don't really know what he needs to make him say that. Heavenly Father provided the answer with His plan! When we found Br. Manana watching that movie we immediately knew that we now had a teaching plan. When the movie finished we talked to him a bit about what he learned and how he felt. He told us how he has truly been enjoying our visits and looked forward to every Tuesday and Thursday and that he was learning new things that he never understood before because we had been reading with him. He saw that DVD in their collection and decided to watch it since we were a bit late and thought we weren't going to come. As we talked about the Plan of Salvation I noticed that his eyes started to water up and he shed a tear. He started asking all kinds of questions. We answered and even on Thursday we went back to teach the Plan. We asked him things like, "What do you have to do to be able to receive the blessing of eternal life in the Celestial Kingdom?" and he knows all the answers from our discussions! The only problem is that he is shy or scared to actually go to church and be baptized. He will do the things that he can do in private without anybody seeing him and giving him praise. With him the secret is time. I'm so happy that he is finally having a desire to learn and act. he told us that he was never interested and he doesn't know why but he now has a huge desire to learn and he never knew that there was so much that he still could learn. We shall see what happens in the future but so far very good!

That's the main thing I wanted to share with you this week. We are seeing great success every week and I am loving the people more and more each day! It seems like the challenges of being a missionary don't really matter when success is happening. We are going to have another baptism this week for the friend of the bishops sons and then in June we might have a father of a part member family and also the Ntimane family. Sister Ntimane told she has gone from 3 cups of coffee/tea per day down to only one in the past week! And that's in the middle of winter too!

I hope you have a wonderful week. Thanks for all that you do for me and being good examples at home!

I love you all!
-Elder Dirkmaat :D