Man! It is so strange to be on the other side of the mission emails!! This week was INCREDIBLE. I'll have to ask you to forgive me, for two reasons : 1. These computers don't have spell check and I'm trying to type quickly! 2. This was seriously the best week of my life so I'll try to keep it short..ish. ;)
Also, I may have exaggerated a little bit on the subject... hahaha because Elder Rakotomalala is learning English and I've been his teacher, we decided that he would teach me Malagsi in return! So I have been learning a lot of that this week!
It is unbelievable to think that I have only been here for one week! I literally feel like Ive been here for AT LEAST a month! The days here at the South Africa MTC are long and jam packed!! Every day feels like a week, and every week feels like a month! But that is so good! I feel like I learn and grow SO much every single day! Everyday I can feel myself becoming more and more like our Savior!
Elder Rakotomalala (Rah-koo-too-ma-la-la) helps me sooo much to develop christlike attributes. He is one of the most christlike people I have ever met in my entire life! He has taught me SO much about humility, patience, faith, and charity. He has an incredible testimony. It is so simple, but so powerful and genuine. It is a blessing to be with him everyday. He just converted 4 years ago, he and his older brother are the only missionaries! I am so amazed by him! Not to mention that I love him with all my heart! We are best friends! We've got a friendship handshake and all!
Okay, so I figure you'll want to hear about the MTC and Africa, so here goes! First, talking to people is a very... interesting experience... Accents are very thick here and I sometime have a hard time understanding what people are saying to me.. hahaha Afrikaaners (white africans) arent as hard to understand! But some of the Africans.... man.... I dont even think its english sometimes!! Either way, Africans are the most hilarious people on the Earth. I never stop laughing here! They are also so kind and so loving, especially of missionaries! Also. EVERYBODY has crazy names. Theyre all so so cool! Because so many people speak Afrikaans almost everybody pronounces Weiler correctly!!!! Finally!!! I feel right at home here in South Africa! ;)
Okay funniest story of the week. It just happened. Our district, the Ammon District, decided we were going to trek down to KFC and treat ourselves to a nice, cold Coca-Cola! We were all dying for a soda ahahha anyway, when we were walking back to the MTC we hear this guy yell "ELDERS" and we all looked at him and he just yells "HOORAH FOR ISRAEL!!!!!!!!!" and we all just went nuts and starts cheering and yelling and it was probably the funniest thing that has ever happened to me! I love being an Elder.
The MTC is awesome! The food here is really good! We usually have one familiar meal a day, other than that we eat traditional African food! African food is very hardy food. Like dairy and protein all day every day. Also, carbs like you wouldnt believe! hahaha my favorite is vary sy laoka! (Malagasy for rice and meat) I dont know what they do to it but maaaannn that stuff is sooo good. The schedule is so exhausting. Like I didnt know what exahusted meant until my first day here! 16 hour days where every minute is occupied with spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical exertion! But I have never been happier! There is seriously nothing else I would rather be doing in my life!!!!
The MTC is funny because every little thing that is different is so exciting! The little things get all of us through the day! For example, at lunch everyday Brother Mokie, the manager of teaching here, gives us all riddles to solve while we eat. Every day I work hard to ensure that my mental sharpness is at its prime... and I still feel like an idiot. hhahahaa his riddles are so so obvious but he is so good at hiding the answers and the clues to find an answer. Don't worry. I am documenting all of them so that I can torment you all when I get home with South Africa mind games muahaha!!! On Monday during sports time, the Elders from the Johannesburg mission came to play soccer on our field at the MTC, so we played with them! There were so. many. Africans. And they are all so good at soccer. Its amazing. BUT we proudly scored against them a couple times! Everytime we did we all freaked out ahhah we would dog pile the person who scored and then do the penguin slides and stuff and it was probably the funnest game of soccer I've played in my life! Also. The showers here are almost as confusing as the dashboard on an ariplane. There are separate knobs for hot and cold water and its seriously like rocket science trying not to either freeze or cook yourself hahahaha
Elder Cook from the First Quorum of the Seventy spoke to us on Tuesday and that was PERFECT. He spoke about the church in Africa, missionary work is so different here! The Lord has surely saved africa for the last days! He spoke mostly on becoming Africans at heart, that we can't coast through our missions looking down on the African ways of doing things if we want to succeed in our purpose. I have already begun to take the African ways to my heart! Their culture is becoming my culture! Their vocabulary and grammar is becoming my way of speaking! (Our grammar is very very different from yours. For example: Instead of me saying "I'm on a mission" I would say "I am on mission" and other different rules like that!) My favorite word so far, they don't call it Foosball, they call it Bobby! So we all love to play Bobby every night if we can!
Elder Rakotomalala and I are currently holding the champion spot in Bobby right now! We are undefeated!!! We play as a companionship and we are actually pretty good! Looks like we aren't just good at teaching ;)
Perhaps the highlight of the week was going to the JoBurg temple! IT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL TEMPLE ON THE PLANET! The gardens there are unreal! I would take the gardens at JoBurg than the SLC gardens any day!! They basically had to tear our zone out of the gardens to go back to the MTC! hahaha The temple is so tiny. Like only 25 people can be in a session at once. So so small. But the exact peace and joy rests in that tiny sanctuary! That made my whole week! While I was there I bought a really cool journal and a little book of mormon that have some really cool african covers! One nice thing about the exchange rate is that 1 Rand is about $0.08! So everything is about half price than it is in the States!
The second highlight of the week was definitely sacrament meeting in the MTC! They had all of the Elders write a two minute talk on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and just called us up and WOW. It was the most powerful and inspiring testimony I have ever been to! I took 4 pages of notes, both things that people said and shared and a lot of enlightenment from the Spirit! It was lowkey the minor leagues of General Conference. No joke. It was awesome.
Okay I know this is getting long but please bear with me here. There is some way good stuff coming! (and I'm almost done)
One of the most terrifying experience of my life was our ride from the MTC to the temple. It was one hour of pure horror. Driving/sitting in a car/walking on the sidewalk/even thinking about the road is gambling with death. hahahaha because so many cops are occupied with crime and other business they dont really have time to pull people over for traffic violations, meaning, people have no respect to speed limits, stop signs, red lights, or even lanes!!!! I think all of us were praying for safety the whole time! hahaha it is almost worse being a pedestrian! I am more afraid of being run over than I am of being robbed!!! Oh. We also had a presentation on heath and safety yesterday. I dont know if they were trying to inform us or trying to get us to lock ourselves in our flats all day. haha! There are so many medical precautions we have to take! Not to mention that they told us just to do whatever anybody tells us what to do if we are confronted on the streets!
GET THIS. After all the shots and vaccines in the US, I still got FOUR MORE shots here! But the nurses gave me a lolli after...
I think they felt bad for me....
Elder Rakotomalala and I are currently teaching two investigators! Alex and Alo! Or as Elder Rakotomalala refers to them: Brotha Alex and Sister Aloa hahaha they are both progressing really well!! We committed Alex to baptism yesterday!!!!! Joyous day!!!! Alo is getting really close to a baptismal commitment as well! She is learning really quickly! But baptism isn't everything here in Africa. Many many people are baptised every single weekend! Our purpose as missionaries here is to establish our wards and branches! To bring people to the temple to make covenants with our Father! Retention is everything to us! We strive to bring our converts to the state of conversion that they begin to strengthen and establish their own branches and wards!
I swear I witness a miracle every day here. I have seen so much change and growth in myself and all the other Elders here! I have also seen miracles in Elder Rakototmalala's English!!! He is getting so good!!! We kind of have our own sign language to communicate when we dont know how to say it to each other hahaha I have learned that EXACT obedience is mandatory if you want to be successful! Being exactly obedient will bring you more joy than anything else in the world!! Not just on a mission! For you too!! I know that we are all imperfect human beings, but our Father in Heaven doesn't ask us for perfection, He simply asks for sincere effort; our BEST effort!
If I were to give any advice to any future missionary it would be as follows: The mission is NO time to begin your study of the gospel. DO NOT WAIT. Once you are here all of your gospel study is for your investigators. You will never study for yourself here! It is crucial that you begin to familiarize your self with gospel doctrine and principle before you even get you mission call, if possible!!!
I think my new favorite scripture is Mosiah 4:19-20! I read it, and the power and conviction that I felt from those words really meant a lot to me as a missionary! Especially in Africa! I would recommend that each of you read it! We all have so much that we can learn from King Benjamin! This reference is powerful and I hope that you take it to heart!
We were all so sad to hear about Elder Richard G. Scott passing away. He was an incredible apostle and his words inspired us all! I am so thankful for the Plan of Salvation and the comfort that comes from it! I know that his work is not finished as a witness and apostle of Jesus Christ! My heart is filled with joy to think that he is reunited with his dear wife once more!
My last request, please pray for the people here in South Africa! Pray that their hearts and ears will be opened to our message, that they listen to our message! They are amazing people, and I know that the gospel holds the answers to their problems! The message of the Restoration is the answer! Not NGO's (my apologies to the UN). I am so thankful for your prayers, I can absoulutely feel them strengthen me!
Thank you all so much that sent me with letters and packages for me to bring to the MTC! I loved all of them!! They mean so much to me!!!
I hope that you know that I pray for all of you back in the states every day, multiple times a day! God be with you!
I love you all so so much!!!!
We finally got to explore Joburg a little bit!