Monday, November 23, 2015

Holy Habashwe!


As usual, another FANTASTIC week to be reported! The following are exciting and noteworthy events:

First and foremost, we are leaving for Durban in an hour! So I guess you could say that we're getting pretty excited... I am so excited to see other missionaries from my MTC group! This week we went paintballing for a Zone Activity and that was a blast! I think we're on the path to being regulars there.. hahaha!  (I'm not sure about the rest of you, but as a mother who wouldn't let her boys play with guns, this picture is terrifying!  It looks like a scene right out of "Freetown".  Okay I'll stop and let you enjoy the rest of his letter :) )

I think the funnest part about this week was going on exchanges with Elder Faganello in Osizweni!! YO. Going from a bigger town like Newcastle to a township was a HUGE difference! But it was a blast!! Not to mention Elder Faganello and I get along really really well! The umlungu's took over the township! 

*writer's note -- I am so scatter brained because our whole district is here and we're just talking about Durban so this might be a little spastic*

One of my very favourite things about South Africa so far is Kota. Kota is a food that you can really only buy in the townships, and it is usually only served in Tuck Shops ( A tuck shop is pretty much a tin hut that somebody builds in their front yard and starts selling food out of it. It sounds sketchy.... and it is sketchy.... but it's cheap and delicious) But Kota is like a heart attack in a bag, but oh I love it so much. So much so that I actually took pictures of Elder Faganello and I eating them....

Elder Faganello were also tracting around the town and it's not unusual to see cows just roaming around, however, we were walking back from a door we knocked and saw a cow eating out of a rubbish bin! hahaha it was actually really funny. So I took a couple pictures of that as well!

We also had a baptism on Sunday, but it doesn't really count because they are children of record, but Namhlange asked me to baptise her so I guess I got my first baptism!! hahah! It was nice practice and it was sweet to reflect and remember my own baptism day! It was almost 11 years ago!! 

I think the coolest experience we had this week was meeting an RM who served here 2 years ago! We were getting together for our nightly devotional and a guy pulled up in a car (he was white so we were preparing ourselves to receive some heavy fire) and he starts telling us that he used to live here! His name is/was? Elder Jenks! He came back to visit the mission and he so happened to have PERFECT timing! So we invited him in and we all talked to him about what's going on and he reminisced; it was really cool! We learned a lot from him! He was so excited to be back! 

Even better, the next day Elder Benissan and I were having comp study when we were interrupted by a knock at the door, it was Jenks! He told us that he wanted to take us to dinner! Elder Benissan and I almost cried because we were so happy. He took us and the zone leaders to Spur ( A steakhouse with an American Indian theme ) and we had a blast! It was so sweet to have him around! 

Well aside from being told how terrible America is by an angry Baba, I think that's about it for the week! hahha I am so grateful that the Lord has entrusted Elder Benissan and I with His authority and spiritual power! I know that each of us can be endowed with spiritual gifts, power, and blessings when we are worthy, faithful, and determined! I have learned that enduring to the end doesn't just mean staying faithful and keeping the commandments until you die.. But it means magnifying and expanding our baptismal covenants, our faith in Jesus Christ, continually repenting, and always striving to be worthy of the presence of the Holy Ghost! I am so grateful that the Lord has allowed us to make promises with Him and that he blesses us so immensely for keeping them! 

The church is true!!


Elder Weiler

Monday, November 16, 2015

I Hate White People

Okay the caption seems a little intense.. But man.. Afrikaaners are difficult people.

Hello All!

This week was a great week! I feel like I have grown and learned a lot this week! Perhaps one of the coolest experiences this week was just sitting with Elder Benissan and Sister Lethuma, eating dinner and chatting, and feeling right at home. I no longer feel like a stranger in Newcastle, but I feel like I was raised here! The more the language barrier deteriorates the more I feel like I really fit in! 

Okay, I know that the Missionary Handbook says that we aren't allowed to keep pets, but it seems that every animal in Newcastle wants to live with us!! This week Elder Benissan and I noticed, during our personal studies, a chicken just roaming around in our yard.... So we watched it for a minute and then went back to our studies. The next day, as we are leaving to go out and get some work done, we see the same chicken just roaming in our yard! Day after day this chicken has not left us without a visit. hahaha we don't know where it comes from, but we did find a nest made in our backyard! We were going to name it Izi (short for 'Izinkuhku' which is Zulu for 'chicken') but we have decided that it is a 'he' and his name is Thabo (tah-boe). So Thabo likes to hang out with us. We also have a cat that likes to chill at our place as well, the cat isn't nearly as welcomed as Thabo is. Elder Benissan and I don't trust cats... So we haven't named her yet. The most inconvenient of all of our 'pets' are the birds here; I have NO idea why, but every bird in Newcastle finds a way into our boarding!!!! It is not unusual for us to hear a bird flying around, in a helpless attempt to get back out the small window it flew through or to walk out of our room to see a bird hopping around; unfortunately I haven't been smart enough to take a picture yet.. *makes note in planner*.  It is really inconvenient. 

Birds -- Please stop pooping in our home. 

Speaking of pictures, I bought a new camera. I'm sorry mom, but the old one was so bad. hahha I have been having other Elders send me the pictures they took and then attaching them to my emails... BUT I got a nice camera for cheap! I have been playing around with it and I have really enjoyed it! So I've got a few fun pictures to share this week! 

Last week we got to drive to Ladysmith to pick up our new Zone Leader, Elder Canamala! He is from Mosambique! He's a great missionary! It was also really fun to see a new area! Unfortunately, we're in a really bad drought here, and the Ladysmith Elders have it worse than anybody else. They have no running water, they just have gallons and gallons of water bottles sitting around the house, but the Lord is certainly providing for them, even in this time of struggle!

On the note of road trips, we also received some VERY exciting news this week! WE ARE GOING TO DURBAN!! Next week there is a zone conference for all of the coastal areas, and I guess Newcastle was included, albeit the fact that we are nowhere near a coast. Elder Benissan and I literally jumped for joy and cheered. hahah we are very very excited to take a REAL roadtrip through SA! Durban is about 5 hours away and we'll stay there for 2 days! I am so excited to see other Elders from my MTC group! Many of them stayed coastal! 

This week we received a phone call during our companionship study and we pick up and all we hear is "Is this the missionaries?" and we're like "Yeah! We're the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! Who is this?" and all he says is "You must stop interfering with my wife." and we were like oh crap. We thought it was Babba Mlambo (Smanga's father) and we keep asking "Who is this?" and after this guy starts to get really heated he just starts busting up laughing! It was the Second Counselor in the Branch Presidency! Hahahahah we were SO nervous! We didn't have the number that he was calling on, and he hid his Indian accent really well! That was hilarious, he even mentioned it in Sacrament Meeting. His name is President Pillay, he is a FUNNY guy! I really like him. He and his family are the only Indians in the branch, and I think that is kind of hard for them... I know that struggle! But we manage!! haha!

This Sunday was very exciting because we had 6 investigators with baptismal dates come to chuch! We have finally arranged transport for each of them to come to church! It is not like the US where everybody just has a car, nobody really has a car here; so you have to either take a taxi or walk if you want to go somewhere. But it was so awesome to see that they really do have a desire to come to church as long as they can get there! As far as I noticed they all really enjoyed church! The members here are becoming more and more accepting and inviting to investigators and less active members! It is so important that as members, we are always welcoming new faces each week! Your hospitality will reflect on the whole ward and on the whole church!! It has been so exciting to see the growth of this branch! On average, we have 20+ more people attending church each week than when I got here 7 weeks ago! I am so excited to see what more we can accomplish as a branch in the next 5 weeks! 

The last noteworthy event this week is that it was Diwali! Or, Indian Christmas! So there was a lot of Christmas-sy lights up, and on Tuesday night everybody was lighting off fireworks! So we met up with the Zone Leaders for devotional at 8:30, drove up to the highest mountain in Newcastle, and watched the whole city celebrating Diwali by lighting the sky! It was awesome! Elder Faganello also bought some fireworks so we also got to contribute a little bit! (I am actually not sure if it was allowed that we had fireworks but Indian Christmas only comes once a year people)

But that's my week! I am so grateful for the sacred trust that the Lord has in Elder Benissan and I! I am so honoured that He has entrusted a small portion of His vineyard for us to watch over! It is such an amazing opportunity to be here on mission, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else! 

Well, paintballing was such a hit that we're doing it again today, but with the whole district this time! So I've gotta run, there's missionaries to shoot!!

Elder Weiler

Okay wait the camera is being kind of difficult so yeah.. Pictures next week! 

Tot Ziens! 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sanibonani from SA!!

Hello beloved friends and family!! I have good things to report this week! But I am gonna do them super duper fast because I'm kind of like a zone leader right now (that will make more sense later) so I get to ROAD TRIP down to Ladysmith to pick up some new missionaries!!! So I've gotta get going! 

BUT FIRST. the presentation of my week. (in like 5 minutes)

Last week, monday, we FINALLY went paintballing! Our plans fell through 2 weeks ago and we got to go for P-Day! It was SO much fun. I can testify that there is no greater way to come closer to the Elders in your zone and district than to shoot them!! hahahaha we had a blast! 

We have had more and more prayers answered this week! We picked up 2 new male investigators!! They are both very captivated and interested in the message of the restoration! We were teaching a man named Lizo about our Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness and we only got halfway through because we were having such great discussions on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, so we reached our time to go and before we could even ask he says "So when can you guys come back?!" and we were like "When can we??" and he said "Can you come tomorrow night?" hahaha it was so awesome to see his enthusiasm to learn the rest of his plan. Unfortunately we were pretty packed for the weekend so we have to wait until later this week to see him.

We also started teaching a guy named LSK ( that's just what we call him. His name is too hard.) As we were teaching him the restoration we told him about the priesthood and how we have temples on the Earth today because of it; we showed him a picture of the Salt Lake City Temple and he was like "Woah. Is that Heaven?" and we just laughed and said "Yeah..pretty much." and we had an awesome talk about temples! 

I am so grateful for the Lord for hearing and answering so many of our prayers! Our YSA class was PACKED this week. Literally all of the seats were taken up. That was an amazing sight. Our priesthood class was also packed! It was truly a miracle to see! I promise that the Lord recognises our prayers when we pray genuinely and with real intent or promising to God that we will act on the answer that we receive! It is crazy to see how much the Lord understands our needs and delivers blessings to us EXACTLY as we need them! God is good!!!!

This week was transfer week! I am staying in Newcastle with Elder Benissan to finish my training! We had a little scare, somebody implied that one of us was going to be transfered to Bloemfontein! But we made it! Thank goodness! Unfortunately, Elder Jase (one of our zone leaders) finished his mission and went home this week! I'm gonna miss that guy so much!! Fortunately, Elder Faganello (his companion) stayed with us for the weekend!!! So we were in a tripanionship! It has been a BLAST! I have loved the time the three of us have had together! We are driving to Ladysmith to pick up his new companion! 

I have felt really blessed this week too because my Zulu improved A LOT this week! I am finally starting to hear and understand words and phrases when people speak! Zulu is also starting to feel more natural coming off of my tongue! However, I am told that I still have a thick American accent, which is pretty funny I guess... hahahaha

I don't know if it is mission or if it's South Africa but I have been in touch with my artistic side recently! My favourite thing that I have created so far is decorating my new planner! I will send a picture next week. It is pretty sweet. It is covered with a picture of Samuel the Lamanite standing on the city wall with the words "Take a stand" in the middle. I love it because it is an entertaining cross between a pun and an inspiring religious thought!

I think one of the funnest things that we did this week was having a little "going home" party for Elder Jase. We went to a pizza place called Panarotti's. Man. Pizza is the best. It was one of those all you can eat places and I ate 13 slices of pizza, each one a different kind.

It was divine.

After we took our bokkie ( a pick up truck in American terms) up to the highest mountain in Newcastle and had our last nightly devotional up there. It was really cool to look out over the city and reminisce over life and mission! It was a really cool night! 

Fun fact for this week: I am learning to drive manual! Elder Faganello says I'm a natural! So that has been a lot of fun to drive the bokkie this week!! 

Well, that all for now!

Love you all! 

Thank you for the support and the prayers! PLEASE keep them coming! They're working, and they're greatly appreciated! 

Elder Weiler

An action shot from paint ball! 

Monday, November 2, 2015

THIS is why you bless your food.

You know, growing up, I always thought blessing the treats or the refreshments after an activity seemed a little silly. I mean, cookies and chocolate milk needs to be blessed? So I guess I always thought it was rubbish.

But I was wrong. 

Oh, so wrong.  (to be explained later)

HOWZIT?? (I say that like a million times a day)

Life here in South Africa is exactly as you would expect it to be! Intimidating and equally as exciting! Everyday holds so many adventures! I feel so at home here! Newcastle is an amazing place to begin my mission! It isn't quite a township, but it isn't quite a city.. So it's a comfortable middle ground. We get to see both sides of South Africa, the posh and the poor. This makes work here really interesting! The diversity does not hinder the truthfulness of the gospel! There is always something that people can find through worthy membership in the gospel that will enable them to improve the quality of their life! 

This week was another packed with stories of the best of times.. and the worst of times. Literally. 

One of the best announcements that Elder Benissan and I received is that our boarding is being sprayed for roaches! FINALLY. I hate those things. (I can literally hear mom panicking at the thought that her Londy-Boy is living with cockroaches). But yeah, I literally cheered when the Hind's told us.

Real quick I wanna give a shout out to Styles for his birthday! Ladies, don't even think about it for another year.

Also, thank you for all of your prayers! I am so excited to report that there has been so much growth in the Newcastle branch! Especially in the Priesthood!! We have almost doubled our numbers! We have been ECSTATIC at the number of men that are finally stepping up to their priesthood obligations! Keep the prayers coming! I can see good things coming our way!

Also, I am astounded by the kids here. There are like 3 year olds speaking zulu and english without a second thought and I'm struggling to even speak my first language. hahahaha. They are also some of the most loving kids in the world!! Every once and a while I feel something brushing my arms, when I turn around it is always a kid feeling my skin; they can see that it's different, but they don't know why! They also love to play with my hair! hahah

I want to share my excitement for some of our investigators! We are teaching two sisters, Khosi and Lucy (her birth name is Phile), they are very devout in their faith in Christ! When I came to Newcastle they had been meeting with missionaries for about a month, but they quickly started to think as appointments with the missionaries as a bible study or a nice little thought, they didn't really have motivation to be baptised or to accept the challenges from the missionaries. After teaching them like this for another month Elder Benissan and I started to lose hope in them, so we decided we had to make some changes and see what happens. It is AMAZING what happens when we prepare and plan prayerfully (that was definitely alliteration)!!! Our lessons have TOTALLY changed. They have gone from being some of our most lukewarm investigators to our most solid investigators! They are preparing to be baptised in two weeks! I am SO excited for them! 

Fun story: We don't celebrate Halloween in SA. People think that it's the Devil's birthday so they are all super scared of even talking about it hahha! Fortunately, the Hind's opened their home to trick-or-treaters! So I had the priviledge of taking Elder Benissan to his first trick-or-treating expedition! It was nice to get some sweets. 

Okay. So Elder Benissan and I went to Ncandu Combined to teach and do some service activities with the students! Today, they were even generous to share some of their snacks with Elder Benissan and I! So we had a few muffins (which we delicious) and some juice out of a bucket (which was not as delicious), but Elder Benissan and I never even thought to bless it. This is where we made a terrible mistake. Later that day, I had to visit a toilet at every house we went to... But that wasn't even the worst of it... Friday morning Elder Benissan and I woke up in the morning and wow.... I have NEVER been so sick in my life. We were convinced that we were dying. So we had the priviledge of staying inside all day and vomiting... Talk about companionship bonding. Although I do feel very blessed; the other missionaries in our district and zone, including the Hind's checked up on us frequently and took really good care of us!! The transfer ends this week and it breaks my heart to think that I will have to say goodbye to so many of the other Elders that I have grown to love so dearly. 

So please. For the love of all that is holy. Bless your food. EVEN the muffins. Also, I would not recommend drinking juice that comes out of a bucket...

However, being sick was a blessing in a few ways; two specifically. 1. I didn't realise how much I LOVE missionary work until I didn't do any of it for a whole day! I am so grateful to be a missionary!! 2. My testimony of the fast has been strenghtened so much!!

Although Elder Benissan and I had only eaten once over the weekend, we did our best to fast for as long as we could, as we fasted we prayed for investigators and our branch. WOW. Yesterday was amazing!! Although not every investigator came, it was amazing! To be honest, before I came on mission, I was always lukewarm in my fasting.. But this week has strengthened my faith in the power of the fast! In the power of sacrifice in general! I am so grateful for our loving Father in Heaven who hears our prayers and blesses us when we show the faith necessary to perform whatever we have asked for!!

Smanga even bore his testimony in fast and testimony meeting!! I talked about him a little bit last week. He bore his testimony for the first time ever; it was so sincere. He talked about his desire to be baptised, that he wants to follow God. His dad is a firm believer that he has to follow in the traditions of praising and worshipping his ancestors, and not God. I am so amazed by his testimony, his endurance to cling to the iron rod even when his own father is against him. I am so thankful that I was able to be born and raised in a family that was supportive and encouraging towards my spiritual development! I know that God never leaves his children alone to suffer. We are NEVER alone. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to be here to see the change that comes when people accept Christ into their lives. I love this gospel. I love missionary work!! 

Doctrine and Covenants 82:3 -- "For of him whom much is given, much is required."

That's all for this week! 

I love you all!

Tot Ziens!!

Elder Weiler

Sad Bois!  This accurately shows how Elder Benissan and I felt after the Boks lost to New Zealand... Also that our jersey's aren't cool anymore...