Awe awe awe! (Pronounced "away away away")
I know I say this a TON but another great week has gone down in the history of Elder Weiler and Elder Benissan! I made notes so hopefully this email won't be so spastic.
We FINALLY got to watch conference!! Watching conference here is very very different than watching conference in Utah! On saturday I was on exchanges in an township called Osizweni; we watched conference in a school classroom without air con. TIA. ( "This is Africa" -- my new favourite acronym). But both days were amazing!! It is so interesting how every year conference has its own personality! The biggest themes I noticed were exercising and increasing faith, opening our hearts and changing into the person that our loving Heavenly Father needs us to be, and the sacrament!
It was so impressed with the testimonies of the 3 new apostles! I love the leaders of our church. Elder Bednar's talk was the perfect end to conference. I must admit. I missed conference tweeting... So I may or may not have taken 25 full pages of notes throughout this weekend... #LDSConf
I have also really enjoyed reading articles from the Liahona in my free time; I read a talk from Elder Ballard that he gave at a devotional a few years ago that I wanted to share some thoughts from:
The talk was titled 'Men and Women and Priesthood Power'
"Let us never forget that we are the sons and daughters of God, equal in His sight with differing responsibilities and capabilities assigned by Him and given access to His priesthood power."
"Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman... in the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by husband and wife"
"While the authority of the priesthood is directed through priesthood keys, and priesthood keys are held only by worthy men, access to the power and blessings of the priesthood is available to all of God's children."
This went hand in hand with the talk from Russell M. Nelson. I am so thankful for the assignments of gender that the Lord provided to us. I know that His plan is ultimate and perfect. That men and women have been given divine roles in our world and that it is crucial that each of us magnify our callings as men or women!
On Monday we got to watch Forever Strong for FHE! It was so nice to watch one of my favorite movies! I think everybody loved it! It was also perfect timing to watch a movie about rugby; the World Cup is happening now and the Springboks have been killing it! Because the games have drawn so much attention, work has become almost impossible for missionaries. So we have been allowed to watch the past 2 games!! All of our zone went out and bought springboks jerseys so that when we get together we are all in our fan gear! It's been really fun.
If there is one thing I have learned about myself out here in South Africa, it's that I LOVE rugby. I have always enjoyed watching and playing football with friends.. But rugby is the best. We play a lot. We are actually going to play a match after we finish emailing!
The springboks lost in the semifinal round against New Zealand; our biggest rivals. As far as we care, that WAS the final. It was a really good game! It was so unfortunate that we lost by only 2 points... But it was way fun while it lasted!
It is rumoured here that when your missionary tag is crooked that somebody is thinking about you. I have found my tag crooked quite a few times this week!! Thanks Mom! hahahha
But more seroiusly, I am so grateful for all of the prayers. I can literally FEEL it when somebody is praying for us here in the SADM. It is a spiritual pick-me-up. I am so grateful for all of you that support me through your prayers and through your faith. It is making a great difference in the work here and in my personal welfare here!!
Elder Benissan and I have officially named our companionship; I was reading in "Jesus the Christ" the other day and learned that the apostles James and John were, not only brothers, but referred to as "The Sons of Thunder" for their zeal in sharing the gospel! So Elder Benissan and I have proclaimed ourselves the Sons of Thunder! (This is also ironic because there have been ridiculous lightning storms all this week.. It's actually been a little terrifying... Just a little though.)
Tender mercies from the Lord are in great abundance! Every night we meet up with our missionary district and share our tender mercies from the day. It is so powerful! Fewer things will invite the sweet spirit of our Heavenly Father than acknowledging and thanking Him for what He has done for us! This works so well with us missionaries that Elder Benissan and I have begun to do the same thing in almost all of our lessons! I would encourage each of you to do the same, both personally, in a journal and in personal prayer, and in families! It will bring you closer to your Father; and you WILL feel His love for you.
Perhaps the greatest tender mercy we experienced this week was breaking down some walls with a hostile father of an investigator who is begging to be baptised. His name is Smanga, his mother and his sister are members but his father wants them to be "'real' Zulu men". He thinks religion is feminine and means that one is weak minded. He really hated us, and didn't want us to enter his home anymore. It was causing a lot of contention in their family that he was preventing his son(s) from pursuing something that was important to them. However, we had a lunch appointment at their house yesterday and Elder Benissan and I were really nervous about going; but Sister Mlambo insisted. So as we went, the father was sitting in the lounge watching TV, as usual. We greeted him and he told us we could wait on the couch for somebody to come get us. We noticed he was watching soccer and started a conversation with him. We found out he is a professional soccer coach! After about 10 minutes we were having very natural and genuine conversation! After that he had no problem with us staying for lunch. What a blessing!! That was the answer to many many prayers and Elder Benissan and I hope to continue building a relationship of trust with him!
A good lesson that I learned this week, that I think is perfectly applicable to all of us, is to take personal inventory when we are agitated or frustrated with others. Before we speak out of our frustrations I would encourage you to ask yourself these questions:
"What have I done to contribute to this problem?"
"What can I do to improve this situation?"
Then, prayerfully ask for help in doing ALL that you can do to make amends with yourself before you point fingers and criticise. Your problem will often be solved before it is communicated!
I have also began to realise that mission is not about me. It is purely about the Lord and His children who stand in need of the message of His gospel! As I have realised this missionary work has become a new idea to me! It is also much easier to put in more and more work everyday! I am so grateful for the opportunity each of us have to continually reflect and ponder on our actions and our purpose here! We can always adjust our lives to more strict accordance to the Lord's plan!!
My last realisation is that of the importance of members of the church; both in missionary work (finding and teaching) and fellowshipping (building relationships and helping investigators feel welcomed and wanted). Members are as crucial to the conversion process as the missionaries are! So to those of you who are members, PLEASE reach out to everybody; those in your ward, even if you have known them for a long time, extend welcome and invitation to visitors and new faces in the ward, it may be an investigator or a less active member!! You will feel more fulfillment and happiness as you help serve in the work of the Lord in bring more souls unto Him!!
My last thought is a simple phrase that I have come to fully understand and appreciate on mission;
"Don't wait until your mission to be a missionary."
Please ponder this phrase and pray to know what YOU can do to help Heavenly Father spread His love and touch the hearts of His children.
I love you all so much! I love this work and I love this gospel with all of my heart! I testify that living in accordance to the standards and commandments placed by inspired leaders of the church will bring greater joy than anything else! You can make a difference in the lives of others through your example of faith, obedience, and kindness. SO DO SO.
Thank you all for your support and prayers. They do not go unappreciated or unnoticed.
A few super candid and unplanned photos of Elder Benissan deciding what to eat for lunch and cooking lunch. (It's the closest thing to a snapchat story I can make right now) Again, these photos were not staged.
One of our investigators owns a ladies fitness centre and Ephraim wanted to take a picture by it! hahah