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


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