Monday, March 19, 2018

Week 29: We are always on the look out....FINDING

This week was very productive. We were able to do a lot of finding through members and people coming to church. Finding is such an important part of missionary work. Here in South Africa we need to be constantly finding to find the elect, or those that are truly prepared for the gospel. We were able to find 16 new investigators this week. The past few weeks we have been stressing because it seemed like the work here in Kwa-Thema was coming to a halt. The Lord was able to ease those concerns and worries as we had 28 investigators at church. This was such a blessing and we were so happy to see all of these people coming closer to Jesus Christ and coming to church and being able to feel the spirit.

One investigator in particular that we have been working with is, Sthembiso. He is a young man about 23 years old who is a quadriplegic. The past 3 weeks we have been going over every day to read from The Book of Mormon with him. He is such a humble and joyful young man. The past 3 weeks he hasn't been able to come to church due to some things coming up. This week at church as we were sitting there waiting for the first speaker to begin, we looked over to see him and his wheel chair entering the chapel doors. It was such an amazing thing to see. He enjoyed church so much and it was amazing to see all the love and fellowship he received from the ward. He is currently on date for baptism for May 6th.

Nonhlanhla, Motheo, and Paballo passed their baptism interviews! They will be baptized this Sunday! They are so ready and have such strong testimonies of this gospel.

We will be attending the temple this Saturday to do baptisms for the dead with our ward and recent converts. We are super excited.

That is all for this week. I love you all and will talk to you next week.

Love, Elder Rash

Soccer with the District

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Week 28: Be a Member Missionary

This past week we were able to hold a Ward Missionary Devotional on Sunday. The theme was D&C 88:81. Those who have been warned must warn their neighbors. We focused this all on people "warning their neighbors" or sharing the gospel with them. I was able to speak and let them know how much of a blessing they are to us as missionaries when it comes to finding people to teach. Everyone we are currently teaching now have come from referrals. We had two other speakers who talked about the Book of Mormon and the importance of it and how it brings safety for the soul. We then had 3 powerful testimonies from recent converts and current investigators on how members sharing the gospel with them has now in turn blessed their life so much. And also how the Book of Mormon has blessed their life. Their testimonies were powerful.

Nonhlanhla, Paballo and Motheo will be having their baptism interview this week. In preparation for their baptism on Mar 25th. We are super excited for them and they are so prepared and know this gospel is true.

I hadn't ever really had a testimony of member missionary work until I came on mission. Now being a missionary I have truly seen the importance and effectiveness of member missionary work. It can be as simple as sharing what you love about our church or about how the gospel has blessed your life. Take advantage of every opportunity to be a member missionary. You will bless the lives of many. I know this gospel is true. 

Love you all,

Elder Rash

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Week 27: Things will get better....Just focus on the Lord

This week was good. It went by a lot faster than last week. The work here in Kwa-Thema however has seemed to slow down. Many investigators aren't keeping commitments or coming to church. This week we only had 5 that came to church. We are going to have to do a lot of dropping and weeding out those who aren't truly prepared for this gospel. We are going to start focusing on the elect.

Speaking of the elect, Nonhlanhla, Paballo, and Motheo are progressing rapidly towards baptism on the 25th of March. They are so prepared for the gospel and have seen the blessing of it in their life. Nonhlanhla is the mother of Paballo (9) and Motheo(11). We have practically taught them everything, or they have taught us, and all they need now is a baptism interview. We were able to meet Nonhlanhla's husband on Sunday. He works as an electrician on a diamond mine near Cape Town. Which is like a 4 hour drive away. He is only able to come see his family at the end of each month for about 3 days. We luckily were able to meet with him this time to share with him what we have been sharing with his family. We also got his permission/support for his family to be baptized. We will be getting in contact with the missionaries in Cape Town so they can go and teach him so he may be able to join his family in the waters of baptism.

I truly have a testimony that there are certain people in the world that have been prepared by the Lord to receive the gospel. Others, God is still working on. It is our job to open our mouth at all times so we may find those that are currently prepared. I love this gospel. I love the people of South Africa. And I love the Lord.

Elder Rash

Note from mom:  No pictures this week.  He sent me a personal e-mail letting me know that he got his Birthday package!  YIPPEEEE!  He was super happy that I sent Reese's peanut butter cups and 100 Grands!  Chocolate is very expensive there, and I was really afraid to ship it for fear it would be gross/melted by the time it got there.  But it only took 4 weeks for it to get to him!  He was in better spirits this week.  They had Zone Conference last week and he was able to talk with his Mission President about his frustrations and he said he felt better after that!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Week 26: Focus on the positive

Hello Friends and Family,
 Not much has happened this week. My new companion is Elder Nielsen, from Denmark.
The work is going really well here in Kwa-Thema. We are hoping to find more prepared investigators in the coming weeks. We may be dropping some investigators soon.
 I absolutely love Kwa-Thema and the ward. The people are so amazing and loving.
 I know this gospel is true. I love The Book of Mormon and know it to be true. Talk to you all next week.
 Love, Elder Rash
Sis. Leavitt, Devon, Elder Nielsen, and Pres. Leavitt

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
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. 

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!