Monday, February 19, 2018

Week 25: IT'S A BOY!!!!!


This week was the baptism of Thuli and Fannie! I was asked by Thuli to baptize her and Fannie asked Elder Blow. It was such a privilege to be part of their baptism and their conversion. They both have strong and powerful testimonies. It was interesting to see the progress of their conversion. Bro. Fannie is outgoing and loves talking with everyone. He gained a testimony of this gospel very quick. We actually met him when he came to church one day on Fast Sunday and he actually got up and bore his testimony that Sunday. He hadn't even met with us missionaries yet. He has gained a powerful testimony of this gospel and of the Book of Mormon. 

Thuli is very quiet and shy. We met her when a member brought her to church. We began meeting with her and she was quite shy and didn't really say much when we met. She however always kept the commitments we gave her and marked up all the pamphlets we gave her. She began to open up to us and became more comfortable with us. She quickly gained a testimony of this gospel as well. She has a humble and powerful testimony. When she came up out of the water she came up with tears in her eyes. The gospel has changed her life and has brought so much happiness into her life. 

They both brought many family members, that are not members of the church, to their baptism. They have and will be such an example to their family. We hope to begin teaching their family members so they may follow the example that has been set before them.

So this week is transfers. Elder Blow and I received a phone call Saturday morning informing us that Elder Blow would be leaving and that I would be training a new missionary and be the District Leader. I am sad to see Elder Blow leave. We have made so much progress in Kwa-Thema. I am excited to be able to train a new missionary. I am a little nervous about this new task and leadership role but I am also excited for what is ahead. The work will continue to roll forward here in Kwa-Thema. 

I had a wonderful Birthday yesterday. What made it so special was the baptisms of Fannie and Thuli. I received many birthday wishes from missionaries, members, investigators, and Pres. and Sis. Leavitt. Thank you all for your birthday wishes as well! It's weird to know that I am no longer a teen. I still feel like I should be in High School. But actually I'm in South Africa living on my own and talking with random strangers about something that has blessed my life so much. I love it so much! I love this gospel and know it is true.

I'll talk to you all next week. You'll find out the nationality of my son next week. Love you all!

Love, Elder Rash

 
Questions asked by his dad: 

  1. What aspect of your testimony has grown the most since returning to the mission field?
    My testimony of the Book of Mormon and the power that is found and gained from reading The Book of Mormon daily. And the importance of gaining a testimony of The Book of Mormon
     
    2.  What is your schedule like each day?
    We wake up about 6:15, go and play soccer for 30 minutes, come home shower and eat breakfast. About 8 or 8:30 begin personal study. We plan for our day about 9:30 and head to our area at 10:30. We have appointments every hour of the day and head back to our flat at 8pm. We usually find 30 minutes throughout the day to do companion study
     
    3.  What kind of food do you prepare for yourself?
    A lot of chicken and pasta. Eggs. Toast. Crepes.
     
    4.  How often do you eat with members?
    Just about every night. Sometimes twice a day
     
    5.  Out of your investigators, how many are progressing?
    Well progressing investigators is no longer a key indicator but if I could guess it would be about 15 to 18
     
    6.  Tell us more about each of your progressing investigators?
    That would take a very long time
     
    7.  Tell us how the returned missionary that has returned to church is doing? Has he kept coming to church since his first week coming back?
    He is doing great! Has come every week since that first week. He comes teaching with us. He goes to institute. We find him at the chapel throughout the week just hanging out with members. He is doing really well.
     
    8.  When are transfers and do you think you will be transferred?
    This week is transfers. We found out Saturday morning that Elder Blow will be leaving and that I will be training a new missionary and become the District Leader. I am nervous but also excited for this opportunity. I will find out who my new companion is and meet him on Tuesday. It's going to take a lot of work and be tiring but it will be rewarding.
     
    9.  What is the hardest part about teaching the gospel?
    Finding those who are serious about learning the gospel and that have truly been prepared. Also just teaching it simply
     
    10.    Is there anything that they don’t have in South Africa that you miss from the US?
    I was thinking about it earlier. Probably some nice pepperoni pizza, Hot Cheetos, and Reese's Peanut butter Cups. Other than that not really
     
     11.    How was your Birthday?
    So my birthday was good! The entire district and Elder Blow sang to me and wished me a Happy Birthday. Many people in the ward were aware so they wished me a Happy Birthday. Also our bishop's wife and daughter have the same birthday as me so they invited us over for cake last night. That was a lot of fun.
    Baptism of Thuli and Fannie with their families
      
Thuli with her family
 
Elder Rash, Thuli, Fannie and Elder Blow
 
Dinner?
 
I'm going to assume this is the Bishop's family celebrating all the Birthday's

Monday, February 12, 2018

Week 24: The Power of Fasting


Last Sunday our ward had a ward fast. The fast was for the ward and for those who are less active that they may come back to the fold and add strength to the ward as well as that the ward would have a desire to do missionary work. So earlier this week Elder Blow and I decided to spend an hour or two with some members just visiting less active members. We went to a few houses not able to find many of them and had just a quick conversation with one. We had about 30 minutes left before our first appointment. A Sis. Sana came to mind as we were thinking of who else we could visit. We were both a little reluctant to go see her because about a month or two previous we went to visit her and invite her to church to fellowship a investigator that she referred us too. She wasn't interested and just told us to ask someone else. Reluctant, but willing, we went to Sis. Sana's. When she opened the door she was SO excited to see us. As we sat down and started talking she told us how she was talking with her children that morning about how they need to go back to church. Also she had read a scripture that talked about how Jesus Christ is the only way and it just really prompted her that she needed to return to church. She broke down crying as we told her that we hadn't planned to come visit her but felt like we should. She expressed that she knew this was God showing her that she needed to return to church. She told us that she had fallen away from the church because she had gotten a "calling" to be a sangoma, or a traditional witch doctor that believe in ancestral worship and crazy stuff. She had been having dreams that she needed to go that direction and many bad things began to happen in her life. She tried to ignore the calling but began to go that way. She began the traditional worship and ancestral worship. She got up and went to the kitchen and brought in a bag of her traditional worship stuff and mentioned she was getting ready to burn it all and get rid of it. I told her I would love to burn it for her! So I was given the honors of burning a bunch of traditional ancestral worshiping items. It was awesome. But this family came to stake conference this past Sunday. The husband was actually interviewed to become the bishop at one point a few years back. We are so gratefully that we had the prompting to go to their home. We are going to start having family home evening with them. They are a strong family who desire to do what is right. I know that the reactivation of Pastor and us having the prompting to visit this family and them having the change of heart is all because of the ward fast we had.

I know that as we exercise our faith the Lord blesses us according to our desires. I know this gospel to be true.

We have two baptisms this Sunday. Sis. Thuli and Bro. Fannie. They are both so prepared and powerful.

Talk to you all next week! Love you all

Love, Elder Rash

note from mom:  They had Stake Conference on Sunday and their Stake was divided into two!  The Area is growing!  Sis. Koch attended the Stake Conference and ran into Devon.  So grateful she sent me this picture because I got nothing from my boy!
Stake Conference

Monday, February 5, 2018

Week 23: A very spiritual Sunday


This week we had two baptisms. Zola and Francisco. They were both so ready for baptism and you knew they had a testimony. I had the privilege to baptize Francisco. This young man has been waiting for over a year now for that day. He began meeting with missionaries exactly a year ago but his father would not allow him to be baptized. He has been faithfully coming to church ever since. About a month ago Elder Blow and I were driving by his house and saw his father pull up. We quickly turned around to go talk to him. His father said he would allow him to be baptized. He was so excited to finally make those covenants and receive the blessings of baptism. Zola has been preparing since September last year. When I first got here she didn't really seem to have a strong testimony of the gospel. Over the past month or two she has truly gained a strong testimony of this gospel.

Also the past couple weeks we have been working with a less active member that recently returned home from his mission. He returned home December of 2016. Another Sister in our ward who recently returned home from a mission actually served in the same mission with him and he was a huge part of her own conversion to the gospel before they both went on mission. From everything we had heard about him he was an outstanding missionary and highly talked about by members. He hadn't been to church since May 2017.  Two weeks ago we were able to meet with him and had a good lesson with him but he didn't come to church after saying he would. This last Saturday we met with him again. He opened the meeting with a prayer and the spirit was immediately felt and present in the lesson. Over the next hour we had a powerful discussion with him. We each shared personal experiences with him as prompted by the spirit. He expressed the fear of disappointment and being judged by members if he were to come back to church. I immediately thought back to my first Sunday after coming back home from my mission. I expressed to him how I had fears of disappointment, shame, and being judged. But, however, the amount of hugs that I received from ward members was innumerable. After the lesson he committed to coming to church the next day. We asked if it would be alright if one of us walked with him to church, (a 45 min walk), and he accepted. Yesterday morning we showed up to his home to find him anxiously waiting to start the walk. As he entered the chapel, every single person that saw him gave him the biggest hug and had the biggest smile on their faces. You could tell he was at home. This is where he belonged. He stood at the door with Elder Blow and I greeting people as they arrived. Each person's face, as well as his, lit up as they saw him. The entire sacrament meeting you could tell there was an extra special spirit during the meeting. I truly know it was because Bro. Pastor was there. As sacrament meeting began, I saw that we didn't have many investigators at church. For a second I was a bit bummed, but would then look over and see Pastor there and find so much joy. You can tell that the void that was once in his life had been filled. I truly, now, have a testimony of leaving the 99 to find the 1. Elder Blow and I have found so much joy in seeing Pastor come unto Christ. As well as seeing the change in his life now. I would take the feeling I had seeing Pastor at church once again, over the feeling I receive by seeing one baptized, any day. They are both amazing, don't get me wrong.

 This week we had 16 investigators at sacrament (they began showing up during the sacrament meeting), as well as 14 on date for baptism. The work is progressing rapidly. We are excited to start bringing Pastor along with us to teach. He is very powerful and has a strong testimony. I love this gospel and know it is true. 

Love,
Elder Rash

Elder Rash meeting Elder Cordosa, who was in JoBurg for a minor surgery, who served with the OTHER Elder Rash in Mozambique.

Elder Rash with Francisco, Zola, the member who baptized Zola and Elder Blow

What a sight!

What an EXCITING day!

The little boy is a child of record baptism

Francisco (16) asked Devon to baptize him.


P-Day fun.  Look at that form!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Week 22: The work is Progressing


This week was quite successful. We ended up not having the baptism this week but will happen next week, February 4th, along with another investigator Francisco.

 This week we learned that at Stake Conference on February 11th our stake will be splitting and that our ward will be split as well very soon. So there is a chance we will be covering 2 wards soon.

We met with Nonhlahla again this week. She is so powerful! She knows this gospel is true and has truly been prepared. When we went to her home we discovered that her and her family live in a squatter camp. Their shack is one of the nicer ones but she is so humble. We plan on putting her and her two daughters on date for March 18th this week. 

Elder Blow and I have truly seen the work in the Kwa-Thema area progress immensely. As well as our relationship with the ward. The area hasn't had the best of missionaries over the past year or two and we have been trying really hard to regain that trust and relationship. In ward council this week, which we attended, our bishop expressed his appreciation for us and how the ward needs to utilize us while we are here.

This week we had 14 investigators at sacrament meeting.  Five of our strong investigators that are usually at church weren't there. We are hoping they will all continue to see the importance of church and the sacrament. As they come to church they prepare themselves to make sacred covenants with Heavenly Father.

 We are plan on having 16 people on date for baptism by the end of this week. It is amazing to see their progress and the light that comes into their life due to this gospel.

Also you may have seen that I played a little one on one basketball with President Leavitt. When he came to interview one of our investigators for baptism he challenged me to a game. President has a pretty nice jump shot. He is such a loving man and has been called by God to lead the work in the Johannesburg mission. I'm grateful I am able to be part of this amazing work. "This is the work of Angels" -Elder Holland

Love, Elder Rash

 
One-on-one with Pres. Leavitt

Monday, January 22, 2018

Week 21: The Power of Prayer


This week has gone by fast.

This week we had an appointment with one of our most progressing investigators who will be baptized soon. Usually when we set an appointment with her she is always there and has kept the commitments we've given her and taken notes. When we got there we found the house all locked up and no one there. So we decided to go to a members house who lived down the street to see if they knew where she was. When we got there they didn't know but they had a family friend over so we sat down to talk with her. Her name is Nonhlahla. As we began talking we discovered that Sis. Thomo had been inviting her to church for a while now and that she hadn't really been interested but felt like it was time. She expressed how she knew that God had sent us to her and that this was the answer to her prayers. We taught about the gospel of  Jesus Christ and how these are the things Christ has taught us that we need to do to return to live with God and to also have peace in this life. The spirit was so strong and she committed to coming to church, which she did. At the end of the lesson we invited her to pray. The first half of her prayer was in zulu but the spirit was so strong. She then switched to English and you could hear the sincerity of her prayer. She knew this was true. The spirit brought tears to not only her eyes but all of ours. After the lesson Bro. Thomo told us that Thuli had sent us a message earlier that morning telling us that she wouldn't be home for our scheduled appointment. We never received a message. Elder Blow and I both know that Heavenly Father made sure we didn't receive that message so we would meet Nonhlahla.

Also this week we met with a man named Kgomotso. At the end of the lesson we invited him to pray. He began reciting the Lord's prayer as many do. After he finished we explained to him what prayer is and how we should pray. I proceeded to pray to give him an example. After, we invited him to pray again. His prayer was so simple but the spirit was so strong. It was amazing to see someone truly pray and have a conversation with God for the first time in their life.

I have a testimony of the power of prayer. God truly is there and hears and answers our prayers. If you ever feel lonely or afraid or guilty, pray. Heavenly Father is there and loves you. I know this gospel is true.

Talk to you all next week. 

Love, Elder Rash
He loves his district.




Monday, January 15, 2018

Week 20: Death is not the end


This week has been good but interesting. My testimony of the Plan of Salvation has grown tremendously this week.

Death in Africa is very common. Whether it is from sickness, murder, car accidents, etc. It is very sad. This week we attended 3 funerals. This week we heard of about 6 or 7 people passing away. Whether it was members, family members of members, or family members of investigators. With this happening we were able to go and teach many people of the plan of salvation and bring them much comfort. Each time we were also able to talk about the gospel of Jesus Christ and how these are the things we need to do here on earth so we can one day live with God again. By doing this many became interested in how they could do this and learn more about the message we shared. One of which was the daughter of a member who recently passed away. Her and her family live on an island called Mauritius just off of the coast of Madagascar. We had one lesson with her and she knew that she needed to be on the same path her father was on. When we shared with her that the church and missionaries are on that island she was sooo happy. There is no doubt in my mind she will follow that example of not only her father but her elder brother, Jesus Christ. We have already sent her information to the missionaries that side.

This gospel is for everyone. It doesn't matter where we live or the area that we serve in as missionaries. We must bring everyone to the knowledge of this gospel. No matter where we are in the world, the message is still the same. I am so grateful for the plan of salvation and the comfort it brings. I know that as we live the gospel of Jesus Christ and endure to the end, we will one day inherit the kingdom of God and know complete joy.

I love you all!

Love, Elder Rash
Make a left turn and you'll find DEVON

I love that he found his name sign

He loves the kids

Transfer day

Elder Rash with ?

Monday, January 8, 2018

Week 19: Fruits of our Labors


This week has been absolutely wonderful!

So earlier this week we went to a place called Grill King with the family that had us over for new years. We went there so Elder Jolley, who can eat like crazy, could take on the burger challenge they have. He had to eat a 1.5 kg burger, chips, and 8 hot wings in 25 minutes to complete the challenge and get a shirt. He came so close! He finished in about 30 minutes but we were all so impressed. No one thought he would even be able to finish all of the food.

So you may see that I now have a nice gash just above my eye. Let's just say a taxi driver wasn't very happy with me... Just kidding. I wish I had a cooler story than I did. But all that happened was Elder Blackburn hung on the soccer goal and I turned around right as it came down and it wacked me in the eye. No biggy though. All is well, no stitches needed.

Transfers were this week and Elder Blow and I will be staying together. The only change in our district is, Elder Spencer will be leaving. He will be staying in the zone so we will still be seeing a lot of him.

So as you may know from my last letter we had some pretty crazy goals for this week. One of which being our goal of 15 new investigators. This goal was a little daunting. Our goals for this week were 5 on date for baptism, 8 investigators at sacrament meeting, and 15 new investigators. Elder Blow and I truly saw the fruits of our labors this week. This has easily been my most successful week on mission so far. This week we were able to find many who were interested in learning more about the restored gospel. 15 to be exact! It took a lot of prayer and work for us to achieve this goal. It even took tracting the last few hours of our Sunday evening to achieve this goal. This week we contacted a lot of our referrals as well as tracted for a total of 5 hours. We definitely would not have been able to achieve this goal without the hand of the Lord.

On Sunday, as sacrament meeting began we only had 4 investigators there and there were a lot of empty seats in the chapel. I started to get bummed and discouraged. However I should have known better and remembered how Africans work. By the end of sacrament meeting we had 13 investigators at church and many members! There wasn't a single seat in the chapel left.

Fast and testimony meeting in Africa has become my all time favorite. There is never enough time in the meeting for all those who want to bear their humble and simple testimonies. The spirit is so strong although half of the people are speaking in their native language and I can't understand them.

Our investigators class was packed! We had about 25-30 people in the class. On top of the 13 investigators we had at church there were also 7 non-members who we will be meeting with this week. Also 5 other investigators that said they would be at church were not there. There is so much work to be done here in Kwa-Thema and it is beginning to progress very quick.

I have a testimony of this gospel. Prayer has played a huge role in my life and especially this week. I know that as we exercise our faith that our Heavenly F ather will help us achieve our desires as long as these desires are righteous. I am grateful for this gospel and the privilege I have to shared it for the next 2 years. I love you all. 

Love,

Elder Rash
Elder Rash's war wound!  That looks like it hurt!!!

That is leaving a scar!

Elder Jolly taking on a CRAZY challenge!

Finished!  Now he's sick I'm sure! hahahaha