Monday, July 16, 2018

Week 46: Mid-Transfer transfers and Change

Hello everyone! Well this week Elder Bindrup was sick. We think he got a parasite from eating a Mopani worm. I ate one as well and was fine. He's just not African yet. So must of the week we were at the flat but we still managed to have a pretty good week and have some awesome lessons.
Also, we had a mid-transfer transfer this week. We weren't expecting anything to change between Elder Bindrup and  I;  but Saturday evening we received a phone call from President Leavitt... I will be leaving Phokeng.   I had a very short stay here in Phokeng, nine weeks to be exact.  In that short time I have come to love so many members and investigators here in Phokeng.  Elder Bindrup and I have made many memories together.  Like our first day in Phokeng when we got locked inside the chapel compound,  to many hours of tracting  because we had no one in our teaching pool and knew nothing about Phokeng. I have seen this area grow so much.  I'm sad I won't be here to see the baptisms of Timothy, Margaret and Edward, Gomolemo, and many others.  But I know the Lord has more work for me to do elsewhere. That elsewhere is, Rynfield.  I have been transferred to Rynfield in the Benoni Zone. This area is literally a 15 minute drive away from Kwa-Thema (my last area). They use to be in the same stake as each other until the splitting of the stake happened while I was in Kwa-Thema. However, I am sure I will see many members from Kwa-Thema while I'm there. Also you might be wondering who my companion might be. Well you might recognize his name. Elder Blow!!!! Elder Blow and I will be companions once again!! We are super excited. It's not very often you get to serve with the same companion twice during your mission. I'm excited to see the things Elder Blow and I will be able to do in Rynfield given we are both a lot more experienced now. Rynfield is a ward. The area covers both township and town. So our ward is a mix of white and black members. Our chapel is the stake center so it is a very big chapel. A very big change from Phokeng. I will miss Phokeng as well as the landscape out here. But I'm excited for the work that is ahead of me now.
I love you all. Have a great week.
Love, Elder Rash

Note from Devon's mom:  Devon is being very humble and didn't say in his group e-mail, but to the family he let us know that he is being made a Zone Leader with Elder Blow!  He is super excited to learn and grow in this new leadership assignment. Also, this is part of his e-mail to me regarding the changes:
Elder Bishop is leaving as well. I will be his Zone Leader and we will be in the same district. I am super sad to leave Elder Neeley and Elder Bindrup. Elder Neeley is just hilarious and I get along with him really well and Elder Bindrup and I have had a blast being companions.  Elder Neeley, Bindrup, and another missionary Elder Treasure (from my MTC group) will be in a trio for 3 weeks covering both Phokeng and Rustenburg. After 3 weeks Elder Bindrup will get a new companion and will cover Phokeng full time again.
Transfers are tomorrow. I will miss the area. I have quickly grown to love many members and people here. I am especially going to miss the mountains and the village lifestyle. But it hasn't been as hard as it was to leave Kwa-Thema. I don't know. I'm one who enjoys change. I feel fine about it. I'm super excited to be with Elder Blow again. I don't know how I feel about going to Rynfield.  I'm pretty excited. I also love responsibility so I'm excited for this calling to be a Zone Leader.

He did not say why they were having a mid-transfer transfer, but I did hear from some missionary mommas that there was a group of Brazilian missionaries that were coming in mid-transfer that needed a place to serve.

Mapeka Family

Seakgosing Family

Tsatsane Family

Phillip and Bosi members from the ward

Phillip, Tashiamo, Bosi, and Omphile

Devon and Margaret

Timothy an investigator

Margaret and Edward - investigators

Phillip is a member who Devon says reminds him of himself

Monday, July 9, 2018

Week 45: Busy week of traveling, means less time in the area

Hello friends and family! This week was good but very different and tiring.
On Tuesday we had exchanges so I was in Phokeng with Elder Bishop. We had a really good day, found 7 new investigators, and had some powerful lessons.
On Wednesday we had Zone Conference so we woke up bright and early around 5:30 am so we could get ready and drive down to Roodepoort in time for Zone Conference. We had a great Zone Conference and learned a lot. Zone Conference is always spiritually uplifting. We then drove back that night with the Zone Leaders.
On Thursday we conducted an exchange with the Zone Leaders. One came with Elder Bindrup and I to Phokeng and the other went to Rustenburg with Elder Bishop and Neeley. We had a really good Thursday.
Then on Friday we woke up even more bright and early at 4:30 am so we could get ready and drive down with the Zone Leaders to Johannesburg for our temple trip. It was an amazing time being in the House of the Lord. It may have been a tad difficult to stay awake. But I managed :). Then we got home late that night. We tried our best to recoup as much as possible from the lack of sleep we had and from all the driving we had done. So when we went to the temple I saw the couple that are serving in Swaziland and knew they were from Mesa. I went up to them and told them how I was from Mesa as well and asked if they knew my Davis family. They didn't. They live over by Mountain View. But then he said how he taught seminary for a long time as well as institute at ASU. I figured he had to know Bro. Hofeling then. So I asked him and he just got a huge smile on his face. Apparently they are really good friends and had dinner together like right before they left. They got here last year around August I think. Right around the time I was preparing to come back. But their son is a stake president near Desert Ridge and they told me how their son released the two missionaries that are twins and one went to Mozambique and the other to Madagascar. I told them how my mom had talked with their mom because my brother served in Mozambique. Then they said they have a granddaughter and grandson playing volleyball for Mesa and then a grandson playing basketball for Mountain View. It was a lot of fun to talk with them.
Then on Saturday we had another busy day full of appointments. And on Sunday we had an amazing Sabbath Day. Elder Bindrup spoke in church and gave a powerful talk. The spirit was definitely there in the chapel.
Timothy is progressing very well towards baptism. He wasn't at church on Sunday so we went and checked up on him afterwards. When we got there we started talking and it turned out he had to go to work but his first comment to us was "I'm so ready for baptism, What else do I need to do to prepare?" He is so ready. He will be baptized on July 29th.
Elder Bindrup and I are excited for a normal and full week in our area this week. The work is going great and the church is true. Love you all
Love Elder Rash

P.S. Happy Birthday Grandma Starr
P.P.S. Good luck Colton! You are going to be an amazing missionary. The people of Fort Lauderdale, Florida are lucky to have you. Make the most of your 2 years. It goes by fast! Proud of You!

Note from Devon's mom:  I felt like I should add a part of a personal e-mail Devon sent to me.  Chris and I have been worried how Devon would feel knowing that the missionaries he originally came out with were getting ready to head home in 3 months.  We didn't want to say anything to him for fear it would be upsetting to him; but he mentioned it today and all my worries and fears have gone away.  So proud of my boy:
The picture of me with another missionary in front of the mission home, his name is Elder Curriden. He is currently an AP. He goes home at the end of this transfer, in 4 weeks. But When I first came out on my mission he was a brand new missionary as well. We served in the same zone and he had been out one transfer more than me. Then when I came back to the mission he was the Zone Leader in the zone I came to and he was one of the first missionaries I saw that I knew fairly well when I came back. We have gotten pretty close. So I don't know if you put 2 and 2 together but he came out a transfer before me... And he is going home in 4 weeks... Meaning my MTC group will be going home in 10 weeks... 1 and a half transfers... I would have been coming home in less than 3 months... I don't know if you knew that. It's just really crazy to think about. The thought of that doesn't really phase me though. I thought it would suck but I'm actually fine.

Elder Curriden (AP)

What's this?....

"An avocado as BIG as my head!!!!"

Elder Bindrup brought home a pet frog

Another trip to the National Park with the Zone Leaders

Zone Conference with his District
Zone Conference - Roodepoort Zone

Elder Wold from Mesa Arizona!  Fun to have a connection to home.  Devon hopes to be able to
serve in Swaziland with him and his wife.


Monday, July 2, 2018

Week 44: Five little MONKEYS swingin in the trees

Well this week was wild! Elder Bindrup, Phillip, and I got to go into Bafokeng Stadium, where the 2010 World Cup was played, and got to walk around. We literally walked right into the gate. It is open to the public. It is so different from America. To do something like that in America you have to have connections.
Also on Saturday Elder Bindrup and I did 4 hours of tracting. We needed to get to a members house so we decided to take a short cut down the a dried up raven. As we were walking through we started hearing stuff moving in the brush. As we turned to our side we saw a monkey chilling there with its baby!!! It was crazy! Next thing we knew we heard more moving all around us. We were surrounded by 6 monkeys!!! The dad was being a little aggressive because of his baby. But Elder Bindrup and I just sat down and watched them. We also tried giving one of them a Restoration Pamphlet. They declined. Which is not common in Africa lol. It was a pretty awesome experience to find wild monkeys in our area. We had a great time with them. They loved just coming and observing what we were doing.
Also on Sunday we had 5 investigators at church! Edward finally came! His wife Margaret last week told him that he had to get work off so he could come to church. It was so great to see both of them there. Also as people were bearing their testimonies, Timothy leaned over to me and asked if it was fine if he went up as well! I was like of course! I was a little nervous about what he was going to say, I wasn't sure if he was going to start preaching like a pastor or something, you never know in Africa. However, he bore a simple but powerful testimony. He said he knows the Book of Mormon is true and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church. The spirit just washed over me and brought so much peace to my mind and heart at that time.
I am so grateful for the choice I made to serve a mission. It has brought me so much joy. Although it is not easy, it is one of the most rewarding and joyful times in my life. I know this gospel is true. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I'm grateful for the time I have to study it each day and then to go out and testify about these things to others.
I love you all.
Love Elder Rash

Splits with Elder Neeley

Bafokeng Soccer Stadium

Elder Rash races to the field

I see a monkey in a tree!

Elder Rash trying to get as close as he can to the baby monkey

Elder Rash fearful they may pounce on him!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Week 43: Elephants, Rhinos, and Zebras....OH MY!!!

Hello Friends and Family,

This week was good. On Monday we went to Pilanesburg National park as a zone. It was tons of fun. We saw many animals up close and personal. We saw elephants, rhinos, zebras, warthogs, hyenas, wildebeests, giraffes, impalas, a cheetah, hippos, and many other animals. Of the Big 5 however, we only saw two, Elephants and rhinos. No lions, water buffalo, or leopards. They are there, they were just hiding or something. But it was a ton of fun. And rhinos have definitely become my favorite animal!
This week was filled with Elder Bindrup and I finding new people to teach. We are really focusing on finding the elect and sometimes that means finding 15 people a week and dropping 14 of them in the following weeks. We were able to find 13 new investigators this week all of which are very interested and loving people. It is such a joy to just walk the streets greeting people in their language and sharing the gospel with them. Some of my favorite days this week was when Elder Bindrup and I just walked, knocking doors and talking to people.
Transfers were this week as well. There won't be any changes in our district. We are super excited to all stay together and see the work flourish in our district.
Also yesterday morning we arrived to the chapel and about 10 minutes before the start of church I was asked to speak in church. Luckily I had been planning on being asked to speak in church and I had already planned a topic and a talk the previous Sunday. I was able to speak about the sacrament, the importance of it, and the importance of arriving to church on time. Funny enough right before we began the meeting one of the counselors leaned over to me and asked me if it was appropriate to administer the sacrament at the end of the meeting since not many members had showed up yet. The church is still very young here in Africa. They are learning. One thing that they do know and have is a strong testimony and love of this gospel. I have never met more devoted members of the church than those here in South Africa. Many are willing to sacrifice anything to keep the covenants they have made.
 Other than that not much happened this week. Elder Bindrup and I are just continuing to work hard and are excited to see the work really start to take off. I love you all. Have a great week. Talk to you next week.
Love Elder Rash

Pilanesburg National Park

Giraffes at Pilanesburg National Park


Elder Rash enjoying his P-Day

That smile....


Cute little girl in his area

Cute little girl in his area

King of the WORLD!

Soccer field near his area

Elder Rash, Elder Bindrup and members

Week 42: "I have never been happier..."

Hello Friends and Family! Happy Fathers day to all you old men! I hope all of my family is enjoying Lake Powell without me. Just kidding that's not possible without me there.
This week was slow but good. Tuesday I was able to go on exchanges with Elder Bishop in his area in Rustenburg. We had a good successful day.
Wednesday we packed up and headed to Roodepoort for a stake meeting, so we never set foot in our area on Wednesday, a little discouraging.  
On Thursday we had interviews and I had a wonderful interview with President Leavitt. I love that man so much. We talked quite a bit and I'm excited for what I can and will become in the next 14 months of my mission. We got back to our area around 3 pm on Thursday and tried making the most of the time we had. Finally the busy, frustrating part of our week was over.
Friday was a good day. But Saturday and Sunday were pretty awesome! Wanna know why? Because we parked the car all day and walked to our appointments and tracted most of the day. Elder Bindrup and I loved it and had so much fun just walking the dirt roads of South Africa. We found many people who will progress very well. We usually found them at the end of our day or time of tracting. Definitely Heavenly Father testing our faith and will to continue. Gotta love the moments when you knock on a door and they ask who it is and you tell them it's the missionaries and they respond with "We are sleeping"... So I respond "But you're talking?" lol. Good times. But what made it all worth it is when we found this sister named Kgomolemo and we taught her the restoration right then and there and invited her to baptism and she responds "I would love to". That is how we finished our Sabbath Day yesterday.
When it comes to investigators who attended church it was discouraging but it's all good. We had 1 investigator who attended church. It was his first time and he loved it. Despite our branches struggles with conducting a spiritual and uplifting sacrament meeting. Let's just say we had the speakers first and then the sacrament at the end of sacrament meeting because no one had brought bread. The adventures of Phokeng lol.
But Elder Bindrup and I are loving it and are having an amazing time. I have never been happier on mission.  Well I am out of time because we will be going to Philanesburg National Park soon with our zone. But I love you all. I'm grateful for all of the love and support you show me. Talk to you next week. 
Love Elder Rash
P.S. Congratulations Cassie and JD on the welcoming of a new baby. I'm sure she will cry the first time she meets me :)

Gave HIMSELF a haircut

Not to bad....

Monday, June 11, 2018

Week 41: Sometimes it's about sowing the seeds

Well apparently this Sunday it seemed like members and investigators all chose to take the Sunday off. We had very few members at church (around 15 when we started) and only 1 investigator showed up to church. It was quite frustrating, seeing how around 15 committed to coming. But these kind of days happen.
On a happy note Elder Bindrup and I were able to find a lot more people to teach this week. One of which, his name is Timothy. He is very excited to learn more about the gospel and he is very open to learning. He wasn't able to come to church this week but this coming week he should be there for sure. We will be putting him on date for baptism this week.
Elder Bindrup and I have also had a lot of lessons with people who probably won't end up progressing. I have really come to realize that it's not all about reaping. Sometimes it's about sowing the seeds. The spirit was very strong in these lessons and Elder Bindrup and I both know that these people felt the spirit. But sometimes it's about planting seeds for those who will come in the months and years following us. 
Elder Bindrup and I also had a very tender lesson with Edward earlier this week. So before we met Edward and Margaret, Edward was experiencing a very weird and difficult thing on the 26th of every month for the past 3 years. Each night on the 26th of every month Edward would wake up because it felt like someone was choking him and he could not breathe. He would also bite his tongue every time. This caused him to never be able to get sleep on the 26th of every month. He has been living in a bit of fear the past 3 years. Well Elder Bindrup and I met Edward and Margaret a few weeks before the 26th of May. In those weeks Edward has been reading the Book of Mormon and keeping the commitments we have been giving him. Earlier this week Edward, a 40 year old man, opened up to us and broke down in tears. He said "When the 26th of May came, nothing happened. On the 27th I was waiting for it to happen, but it never did. You are my angels. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I don't read these pamphlets because I know you guys are coming. I read them because it gives me power and I know it is true." Edward bore a simple but heartfelt and powerful testimony. We expressed to him that this miracle didn't happen because anything Elder Bindrup and I did but because of him exercising his faith by reading and praying. 
I know that miracles still happen to this day. Sometimes we do not see them or recognize them because of our lack of faith. All it takes is a particle of faith. As we let that particle of faith work in us it will grow. It will grow into a firm belief. And from a firm belief to a knowing. I have seen this progression in my own life and testimony. The first 17 years of my life my faith/belief was merely a particle. I didn't allow it to work in me. However, in 3 short years that small particle of faith has become a firm knowing and understanding. I know with all my heart that this gospel is true. This has grown as I have born this same testimony to countless strangers. I have never felt Gods love and presence more in my life as I do now. God is real. He is there. He loves us. 
Love Elder Rash
P.S. I am going to cut my own hair today so we will see how that turns out. I'll send pictures next week.
P.S.S Next week we are going to Philanesburg National Park for a Zone activity on P-Day. Also I'll have lots of pictures. 
View from a hike they took.... their proselyting clothes!

More pictures of food!  At least I know he is eating well!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Week 40: Finding Golden investigators ready to hear the message

This week was another great week out here in Phokeng! Elder Bindrup and I had a pretty successful week. We are definitely seeing the work pick up and progress. We now have 4 investigators on date and had 4 at church yesterday, compared to the 1 at sacrament and 0 on date when we first got here.
Precious, the lady I spoke about last week came to church and is on date for baptism on July 22nd. She is doing great and progressing really well. Margaret and her husband weren't at church because they went back to their home (4 hours away) to visit their children. They are just renting this side for work. But they are both progressing really well. We are praying that Edward is able to come to church finally this Sunday. Another GOLDEN investigator we have met with this week is Eugene. Eugene is a 22 year old young man who is the brother to a Sis. in the ward. When we first arrived at his house he just kept welcoming us. Super friendly. As we started the lesson he began to open up to us. He mentioned how his sister had given him a Book of Mormon a while back and how he had been reading it but had kind of stopped. He also told us how he use to drink, smoke marijuana, and smoke cigarettes, but how he had stopped all of that on his own about 2 months ago now. He has seen many blessings in his life as he has begun to change his life. He recently got a job at one of the mines. The lesson we had with him was super powerful! We invited him to baptism on July 29th in our first visit with him. He quickly accepted. He loves coming to church and is there almost every week. He lives about a 30 min drive from the chapel but hops on a taxi every weekend after work so he can come to church.
Also this week I went on an exchange with Elder Neeley. That was a ton of fun! We get along really well and just had a great time doing the Lords work. He is an awesome missionary full of enthusiasm and humor. 
Also Elder Bindrup and I went to a basketball tournament of one of our investigators Thabiso, and member who comes with us all the time, Thsepo. That was a lot of fun to watch. It reminded me so much of my days of going to all day basketball tournaments. However, here it is outside on cement courts. The people here in Phokeng and the Northwest province are so passionate about basketball, I love it! 
Well Elder Bindrup and I are looking forward to another great week full of adventures and hard work. I love you all and will talk to you next week!
Love Elder Rash

Homemade salsa from home

Beautiful Sunflower field

Handsome Elder Rash

Elder Bindrup and Elder Rash

Chapel of Church building

Church building