Monday, November 28, 2016

Week 11: Getting a taste of how other religions in Africa do things


Well this week started off with us meeting with a bunch of anti-Christ's. One of which is an inactive member. So this girl is about 24 and was baptized I don't know how long ago but apparently members say she was super powerful and knew the gospel was true. She even got her mother to join the church. However, then her father passed away. She began to blame God. And she got into the wrong crowd of friends. As we sat there talking to them or rather listening, they were smoking and smoking weed. Actually offered us some. But they just went on talking about what they believe and how we are all Jesus Christ and we all together make up God. When they were done talking we started to share our beliefs but then they would cut us off and start arguing another point so we would stop and listen. Elder Thompson was furious and wanted to share his points but there was no use. The inactive member had completely denied the Holy Ghost. So we dusted our feet and left.

Thursday was Thanksgiving and we didn't even realize it till about 8 at night when we were about to head back to our flat. So we decided to run to the mall to get some pie and ice cream but the mall was closed. So we ran over to McDonalds and got some chocolate shakes. That was the extent of our thanksgiving.

On Saturday we did some service for a member by moving a bunch of dirt and bricks. We didn't finish so we're doing the rest this week. She is an amazing baker!

Then Sunday a 15 year old boy that had walked into our church not to long before I got to the area called us last week and invited us to his church. So we went. It was SO different. We spent the first 30 min standing there and everyone started yelling and praying to God out loud "giving themselves to God". The pastor was loud and they had loud music playing. We were the only white people there by the way so we stuck out like a sore thumb. Then he had everyone put their hands on their heads and people went around grabbing your head saying some prayer casting Satan out of your life. Yup, you can guess it. Some guy came and grabbed my head moving it around and manipulating my head "casting Satan out". I looked around and some were being pulled around the room and these 3 ladies apparently were possessed by Satan. The ladies were like groaning and moaning and one sounded like she was throwing up. He made them get down on their knees and he took an envelope to their forehead said like "in the name of Jesus..." and then went "BOOM" pretending to take Satan out of her. Let's just say these ladies are good actors or the pastor put some evil spirit in them. We had to go to our church so we left after an hour. It turns out the boy had walked into our church looking for a church. He didn't come back because the fact that our church was quiet and he wasn't use to that. After we talked to him about his church and he said he was still iffy about it and thought they were acting as well. We're excited to start meeting with him and he has some amazing potential. He is very interested in the things we teach.

Well I love you all and know this gospel is true. 

Love,

Elder Rash

Looks like someone learned how to make donuts/scones!

Hmmmm....not bad.  I can see a little bit of Elder D. in this portrait.

Thanksgiving dinner....McDonald's shakes!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Week 10: Stake Conference with an Apostle


Well this week wasn't very busy. So sorry for no pictures. There was nothing to take pictures of. I'll try better next week. Well the week started out really well. Tuesday we were able to teach about 6 lessons but then the week fell apart. Every day we had lessons scheduled with people for the whole day and even had back up plans. Friday and Saturday were the worst. We would go to their house and they wouldn't be there so we would go to the backup plan and they wouldn't be there. Our backup, backup, backup plans would fall through. It was frustrating. Or people would call us and cancel an hour before. We taught a total of 4-5 lessons Friday and Saturday combined. It's alright though, we got through it.

Well Friday we went and played soccer at the chapel. There's usually around 20 guys there that aren't members of the church. So we're trying to use it as an opportunity to possibly teach some of them. I loved playing and interacting with them but Elder Thompson on the other hand not so much. He was very lost and clumsy. Let's just say there was a lot of laughter amongst all of the guys. I scored a goal! That's 2 weeks in a row! And trust me scoring in this kind of soccer is much harder. We play in the gym in the chapel and the goal is a chair. To score you have to get the ball through the front 2 legs of the chair. You play 3 on 3 and then losers get off. It was a lot of fun but I'm still sore from it.

Saturday we went to the temple with the branch to do baptisms because they needed more priesthood. It was a lot of fun. Only 4 youth came unfortunately. The baptismal font was very small but still beautiful.

Sunday we had a special Stake Conference and D Todd Christofferson came. We were about 6 rows from the podium. He walked about 3 feet past me. It was super cool to see an apostle up close. He talked about forgiveness. It was wonderful and very inspired. This whole week we taught a lot of lessons to members and recent converts about forgiveness. It was the topic they all brought up. One of our investigators was able to come. His name is Mncedisi. He is so powerful! He scheduled for baptism on Dec 11. He was able to go up and shake Elder Christofferson's hand. He loved the conference. Another investigator named Victor came. His 2 kids are members, they're in their 20's, and we've been working with him. Apparently he's been taking the lessons for years. He knows the gospel is true but he struggles with the Word of Wisdom and coming to church. He hadn't come since we started meeting with him about a month and a half ago but he came to conference with his kids!

Yesterday we were fed 3 meals! We were fed 2 lunches because of miscommunication between the Relief society president and members. We got double booked for lunch. No complaints here. Then we were fed dinner by some members. The members are so amazing here and so generous. I felt so fat by the end of the day.

Well that's it for this week. Sorry for no pictures.

I love you guys. Love, Elder Rash

I stole this picture from Sis. Dunn's blog....look at that smile on my boy!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Week 9: Hail the size of GOLF BALLS!!!


Yes, many of you are wondering if I know about Trump becoming President, yes I do. I actually found out the day it happened. It was on the radio and the Africans here have been following American politics and the presidential race probably just as close as you Americans. I don't even know how many times I've been asked what I think about our new president. Members, investigators, and just random people on the streets. What I tell them is I'm just glad I'm here in Africa and if America falls apart while I'm here I'll just extend my mission for the rest of my life.

 This week has been good. So apparently this week I slept walked. I had gone to bed and about 10 min later I came walking out of the room looking like I was possessed (Elder Thompson was sill awake) and Elder Thompson asked if I was alright but I didn't say anything and just walked into the next room. So he was freaked out and went into the room to go to sleep. The part I remember is after I went to sleep in my bed, I remember sitting on the couch and then passing out for 2 hours and waking up and walking to my room and seeing Elder Thompson asleep and then I passed out on the bed.

We went on exchanges again this week on Tuesday. It was a lot of fun and we had a really successful day.

 Transfers were this past week. I can't believe I've been out a whole transfer already. It's nice to not be the greenest on the mission now. We got 2 new missionaries in our district. One elder went home and our district leader got transferred. He had been here for 9 months in the same area.

Well Friday and Saturday sucked. Basically all of our appointments fell through. But we managed. On Saturday there were 2 massive hail storms! Luckily we were in our car. The hail was the size of golf balls! They put little dents in the roof of our car.

Well this Sunday we are having a special stake conference and D. Todd Christofferson will be there. I hope he shambocks the leadership here in our stake and branch, they need it. Also he will be meeting with our mission so we'll be able to hear him speak twice and actually be able to meet him probably at the mission devotional.

Oh yeah, we went to the Apartheid museum. It wasn't that spectacular but dad would like it. We also had the baptism of Masesi yesterday. Man she is amazing. I've never met a convert with a stronger testimony than her. I got to speak on baptism at the program.

I'm starting to get a sore throat which I'm not happy about. But this week has been good. I love you all and will talk to you next week. I know this church is true!

Love,
Elder Rash

 
He loves the kids!

His favorite part of the week....exchanges... and HE gets to drive!

South African stormy skies

Hail that did damage to their car!

Baptism of Masesi


More cute kids!

Elder D.'s favorite little boy!


Monday, November 7, 2016

Week 8: Playing basketball FINALLY with Africans!


Well this week has been great! We had exchanges again this week. I bet you can guess what I'm going to say about it... Yup I loved it! I went with Elder Wardle because he is our district leader and he had to interview Masesi for baptism. So Masesi will be baptized this Sunday. She is so powerful and has such a strong testimony.

This week I was finally able to play basketball!!!! We drove by some basketball courts in our area which normally no one is using but this time there were AFRICANS playing basketball! We went to our appointment and then I forced Elder Thompson to pull over so I could go play and talk to them. It turns out 1 of them use to go to our church but stopped. After playing for 30 minutes and torturing Elder Thompson I invited them all to come play basketball at the Chapel on Friday. Since I've gotten to South Africa I have played so much soccer, which I love, but I was finally able to play some basketball. I learned I am so out of shape.

Thursday we had interviews with Pres Dunn which was really good. It was good to be able to sit down with him and get a little 1 on 1 time with him. I told him how Ryland is serving in Mozambique and he told me that he and Sis. Dunn will see Pres. and Sis. Koch in a few weeks so they will talk to them about Ryland and I. He gave me a lot of good advice and praise.

Friday about 4 of the guys I invited to play basketball showed up. I got changed into some p-day clothes and walked out thinking I would school these guys but man am I out of shape and was one of these guys good!!! It was a lot of fun and an awesome opportunity to get to these guys and talk about the gospel with them.

On Sunday it was my first Fast and Testimony meeting here in South Africa. It was amazing to see and feel of their simple yet powerful testimonies. I can honestly say I've never felt the spirit more in a fast and testimony meeting. It was amazing to see these members get up and thank us, the missionaries, for all we do and the sacrifices we make to bring them the gospel. It made me so happy and reminded me how worth serving a mission is.

So the government here is very corrupt, especially the police. They conduct random traffic stops so they can find the randomest thing to say they can give you a fine for and then try and bribe you. So Sunday we got stopped and the cop started asking a ton of questions to try and find something to fine us for but instead it turned into us talking about the gospel with her. It was quite funny. She let us go.

So the holiday they celebrated here is called Guyfox day. Man some of these kids went all out! it was so funny to see. There were little boys wearing these tight dresses, heels, and wigs.

This week has been great. We had quite a few investigators attend church. It was great to see them there and they loved it.

We have a zone activity today so we're going to the Apartheid museum today. Hopefully I'll have some pictures for you next week.

Love you! Elder Rash

Let me take a SELFIE

Dust storms in AFRICA!

This boy LOVES the kids!

and MORE kids!


I'm assuming this is a family he is teaching

AND MORE KIDS!!!!!  Look at that smile!!!

Day of interviews with Pres. Dunn

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Week 7: October is in the books and November is shaping up to be a successful month!


Well today is Halloween in America but not here. They dont celebrate halloween here but they do have a holiday on the 5th of Nov. where everyone including kids cross dress. They go around singing a song and people put coins in a can for them instead of candy like in America. So its still a pointless holiday like halloween. Im kind of excited to see it lol.
 
So this week has been great! We had a baptism yesterday. It was for an 11 year old girl named Zinhle Kunene. Her family are all members some less active but both of her parents have passed away so she's being raised by her grandmother and aunt and uncle. Her uncle baptized her.
 
So this week we had a load shedding where they shut off electricity at our flat. We were getting ready to head to our area so it didnt really effect us. It was back n when we got back.
 
We went on exchanges again and I was with Elder Ansumana again. It was awesome! I love exchanges. Also this week we met with a 20 year old guy who we contacted on the street. He is awesome! We met with him twice this week. The first time he had read the plan of salvation pamphlet we had given him and had it all marked up and stuff. We asked him to be baptized in the very first lesson. Then we met with him Saturday and talked to him about the Restoration. At the end you could just feel the spirit so strong and he started to cry and said he believes and knows its true. He wants to start meeting like 3 times a week! Im super excited about that. Also theres a lady thats 24 named Masesi who we've been meeting with since I got here and her 2 sisters Julia and Sibongile. Julia and Masesi were progressing really well and were on date for baptism for yesterday. We had never really talked about it so last week I finally brought it up to see how they felt about it and they both kind of wanted more time. They've just recently lost there mother and have been going through a rough time but the gospel has brought that light back into their lives. So Masesi said she would want to get baptized in Nov but Julia had expressed about waiting till the end of the year. Well Julia just got news that they found a mass on her breast and it could be breast cancer. This crushed her and made her mad at god. She expressed to us that she didnt really want to meet with us anymore. Our stomachs dropped. We had a talk with her about why we have trials and how god loves us still. The spirit was heavy in the room. Her sister Masesi then spoke up. She bore a beautiful testimony about how she knows this gospel is true and that she had noticed something was missing until she met us. She said there is no doubt in her mind she is going to get baptized and that she wishes her sisters felt the same. She then said something very powerful. She said "where will you go? if you turn away from God where will you go? There is no one else you can go to." It reminded me of Elder Ballards talk in General Conference. Masesi is going to be baptized on Nov 13. It would have been next sunday but its fast Sunday.
 
So when I first got to the area I went straight to the area book. The previous missionaries were terrible at keeping the area book up to date so I spent quite a while updating it with Elder Thompson. But what I did do was go through the previous investigator section. I found the name of a lady that was taught about 6 years ago. She was being interviewed for baptism but her mother started yelling at the missionaries. So she was never baptized. I took it out and decided we would go and try and find her. This was when I first got to the area. Saturday we finally go around to it because we had some free time. As I read the notes from the missionaries from 6 years ago I read that they had FHE with sister Gaga. We had just had lunch with Sis. Gaga 2 weeks ago!!! We drove over to her house and asked her about her. Aftering thinking about it for a little she remembered her! She directed us to her house. When we got there we introduced our selves. She was so excited to see us and asked when we were coming over for FHE and dinner! WHAT!?!?! It was as if a pause button had been pushed and we just hit the play button. Her name is Rose and she is now 46. Im so excited to start meeting with her again. Previously she had a baptism date set of Nov. 28 6 years ago. I think that date of Nov 28 was meant for 2016. We're meeting with her Saturday.
 
I love you all. Have a safe but fun Halloween.
 
Love, Elder Rash
 
I love this smile!

Getting good at selfies!


His first baptism! 11 year old Zinhle.

Pictures from the Primary Program he was in

Making his momma so proud....singing at the pulpit!  Hasn't done that since he was 8 years old!

Little boy on the right...Devon's new best friend!

Chillin in his flat...taking selfies!
 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Week 6: This week has FLOWN by!!!


This week has been pretty crazy!

First off I gave 7 blessings this week. They were wonderful and the spirit was so strong. I've never been more grateful to be worthy of the priesthood I hold. We had zone meeting this week which was a lot of fun. It was nice to get out of our area and see some new scenery.

We took our car in to get serviced that morning as well and expected it to be done by about 1 or 2 by the time zone meeting ended. Well it turned out there were more problems with it than we thought. Long story short we got a different car for the next week or 2 and we didn't get to our area till 5:30. And we had been asked that day to teach institute at 5:30. After institute we headed to our 7 o'clock regular appointment. Well that fell through. It was dark and storming so there was no one on the streets so we just contacted a few referrals then went home. That was the worst day this week.

There have been lightning and thunder storms every night this week. Thunderstorms here are crazy! I had gone to bed and passed out when all of a sudden BOOM! Elder Thompson and I jumped out of bed. It was thunder. I have never heard thunder so loud and so frequently in my life. I can honestly say I felt like I little child again who's afraid of thunder.

So Saturday all of our evening appointments fell through and we were frustrated. We wondered what it was we were doing wrong. We decided to go to Leratos, a 10 year old girl who was recently baptized, and her mother who is considered less active. We had tried to visit Sis. Richards, Lerato's mother, about 2 weeks ago when I first got here but no success. So we got to the house and Lerato was outside playing with her friends so we stopped and played jump rope with all of them for about an hour or so. About 7:00  Lerato invited us in and we talked with her mother. She proceeded to tell us how she had thought to call us that day but just kept ignoring the thought to do so and then all of a sudden we showed up. She said it was an answer to her prayer. We then knew why our evening appointments fell through. It was an amazing experience. She has been going through some depression and has been trying to get out of it and the doctors have her on a ton of meds that don't seem to be helping. She just opened up to us. She expressed that she enjoys talking to us because she knows she can trust us and everything she tells us wont spread to other members. We were able to talk to her and share some scriptures and help her a lot and regain some hope. We then gave her a blessing. She's amazing and so friendly. After that we headed home.

We hopped on the highway to head back. The highways here are so different from the states. People can walk on them and you see so many people just walking along the highway. The speed limit is 120km/hr or about 60-70mph. And there are no street lights. It was a Saturday night so everyone was drinking and partying. So back to the story. We hopped on the highway and began to head home. Not too long later we came up on some cars with their hazards on. We figured it was an accident. As we came up on the first car we saw something in front of the car and I figured it was the bumper. It turns out it was a body... Not too long before we got there a man had been hit. He was dead. I'm assuming he was drunk and in the middle of the road but who knows. It was so sad. We pulled off to the side of the highway and just sat there in disbelief. Apparently this is normal in Africa and my district leader has seen 8!

So Sunday was the Primary Program. About 5 min before sacrament started Sis. Panyapanya told us that we were singing in it! I didn't really have a choice so I did anyways. We sang "We'll Bring the World His Truth". After the program and church everyone told me I was a wonderful singer and that I did a great job. I've never heard that before. I've always been told I'm the tone deaf child lol. But the primary program was so cute.

Regarding dad's question about what the church is like here, the church leadership here struggles. It's been said that the church in Africa is in the Kirtland stages like it was in America 100's of years ago. So leadership is definitely different. As well as programs. The church is definitely growing here and has some improvement. So it's been kind of different to me and kind of awkward but I'm getting use to it because that's just how the church is here and they don't know any different. Although the people and their knowledge in the gospel is different than that of other places, the teachings and gospel is the same.

I know this gospel and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints is the true church. That is why I am on a mission. I love you all and can't wait to hear from you next week.

Love Elder Rash

If there are kids in the street, he is playing with them!

What a handsome boy!

He loves the kids!!!

 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Week 5: Opening my mouth is getting easier


Hello friends and family!

This week has flown by! I don't really know where to start because all of the days melt together and I don't really remember what happened. I'll try my best though.

So this week was really busy. We had full days every day. Friday we went to the temple and it was awesome. It was nice to get a break and get out of the area.

So in our flat it's just me and elder Thompson. But 2 other sets of missionaries in our district live in the same compound as us just in 2 different flats. So each set of missionaries get their own flat.

On Saturday we did 2 service projects and had a Brai (barbecue) after at the members house. We didn't get back to the flat and showered till about 3 and then I went on exchanges. The DL went with Elder Thompson in our area and I went with Elder Ansumana, from Sierra Lione, to his area. He's just finishing up his first 12 weeks. It was really fun and it was nice to get to teach with someone else and talk to someone else. We get along really well.

I learned last night that Elder Thompson knows my cousin Kimmy. They were apparently in the same art class at Snow college.

Sunday morning I got a call from a member of the Branch Presidency and he asked me to give a talk on the pre-earth life/plan of salvation. He called right before church!! Well I gave the talk anyways. It went alright. I'm use to teaching the plan of salvation simply, that when I went to give my talk just on the pre-earth life I kind of forgot some of the specific points I was going to talk on. Oh well. I love the kids here! There's a little boy about 3-4 named Kapelo in the branch and I played with him basically all of the last 2 hours of church. He's so cute! When I was sitting on the stand before sacrament meeting he came up on the stand and started talking with me.

On Sunday we attended a baptism for the Glen Ridge area. They are part of our district. There's Glen Ridge, Pimville, and us Protea Glen. Us and Glen Ridge share the same chapel. They are in a ward and we are in a branch. All 3 of those areas are within Soweto. So my area is Soweto. So on my map you can mark Soweto Dad. We currently have 5 investigators on date for baptism. We have about 10 progressing investigators, and we have about 25 people we are teaching and that could be considered progressing soon. The work is going great here!

Thapelo attended the baptismal service on Sunday. We are still trying to work with his mom to move his baptism date sooner. They went and met with him the day we were on splits so I'm not sure where we're at with his mom. Apparently she wasn't there when they visited him so we haven't been able to talk to his mom.

So the weird things I've eaten since being here. Yesterday we were fed chicken livers! They actually weren't that bad. They just had a weird texture. I had fish this week, not my favorite, but I downed it anyway. I've had pap a lot! It's not bad. It seriously has no flavor. Its pronounced pop by the way.

I love it here. Although I'm exhausted at the end of everyday it's worth it. I love preaching this gospel. Before coming out on my mission I was scared to talk to people and was super nervous doing it, let alone about the gospel. Now it's so easy and natural for me. Sometimes I just have to push myself to make the effort to talk to someone but once I do its smooth sailing from there. I know this gospel is true. I love and miss you all. Talk to you next week.

 Love,
Elder Rash
 
Temple Day with the Zone

Look at that smile

Two cool missionaries

Service project...clearing a field with a palm tree branch

He called this an "Africa garbage can"

Just grateful he was in this picture

Stole this from Sis. Dunn.  After the temple they meet together and have classes.