Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Letter from Elder North in Africa

Elder North at a Flamingo Lake
Date:  July 27, 2015
Area: Kimberley
Comp: Elder Jena
Week: 5

Well what a week! We have some good days, and some bad. I’ve come to see that mission is a bit of a roller coaster of ups and downs. The ups come when your investigators keep the commitments you give them and you can see that they have felt something and the downs come from when they don’t keep their commitments because you know how important the message you are sharing is. You know that it can bless their lives more than they could possibly imagine! So like I said it’s been a roller coaster with some investigators improving and progressing and others not so much

I am amazed by the sacrifice the members here make. A lot of them don’t own a vehicle and don’t have money for a taxi so they walk to church which for some is a couple miles. But they still come with loving hearts and open arms. They also have like 6 families each that they have for home teaching and they strive to visit all of them, then on top they have even more callings but they push forward.

This week I also saw a lot of shanties that were smaller than my room back home, some of the nicest caring people and their whole house is smaller than my room, what a humbling experience for me to see and meet these people.

I probably don’t drink enough water but that’s because it doesn’t taste good, it taste like a fish filled lake... so I have to force myself to drink water haha. It could be worse so I’m not complaining.

Cool shrubs at the hosptial

Elders need hugs too

What can I say they are still boys!  Also that seems a strange shrub art.

Tswana and Afrikaans are the biggest in Kimberley so in Tswana hello is dumelang (do me long).

But I like Zulu and that’s sawubona (s-ow-bone-a) which means hello then how are you is unjani (une- ja- nay)
then I’m good is ngiyaphila (ng-uh-pee-la)

I can only great in Zulu, Tswana and that’s it. Afrikaans is the same as English haha.

So like I mentioned the weekends here suck for missionary work because everyone has family over or they are getting drunk and high. The people drink and smoke sooo much I don’t know how some of them are alive! But it explains why they don’t have any teeth... As we were driving to an appointment this week there was a guy just on the side of the road but naked taking all his clothes off. I don’t know why but it was a little funny haha... weekends in Kimberley.

I saw an ostrich on our drive back from our zone training in Bloem, so that was cool. I also went to a lake full of flamingos but we went allowed to get close but it was cool seeing so many

So a gogo died this past week and we had the funeral. Funerals are a bit different here, especially in the kasi (township) they put a huge canopy tent up over the front yard and then you go and sing songs and give talks for like three days to comfort the family. You manly sing so we went to sing and it was good but the next day when we went to sing again another church came and pretty much stole the scene. It was the kind of praise the Lord Hallelujah black people praising singing with bells and all. They also sing a lot of native songs but I can’t understand them but they do sound very African. At the grave yard after they lower the casket then they actually bury the person so that was different too, doing the burring while you are still there. It’s nice having the knowledge and understanding of the Plan of Salvation knowing that families are forever though, I find so much comfort in that :)

I had the chance to go to a couple good soccer matches, there was a tournament going on for teams to get promoted to the first division so that was a lot of fun! The crowds cheer a lot more this side than back home. Again I was the only white guy so people look at me kinda weird but I don’t mind. 

Nelson Mandela Sign

So you all know the songs from lion king and hakuna matata. Turns out that in the opening song the circle of life when they are speaking some crazy African language it’s actually Zulu!!! So that was way cool and hakuna matata means no problem actually so that was cool to find out!

I’ve learned a lot about honoring the priesthood which I hold. I had the opportunity to give three blessings this week, two of comfort for an audition and one for healing. It’s cool being a missionary because people come to you with their problems and seek comfort from you. I have always like being someone people can go to for help and now they do and I love being able to help in whatever way possible.

I didn’t get any mail this week and won’t till the end of the transfer in 3 weeks because I’m so far from the mission home but you can still write me!

I love you all and love to hear from you! Write me!!!

God is good, all the time

Elder North

All of Elder North’s letters and pictures are on his blog at eldermikelnorth.blogspot.com, as well as his address.
It costs $1.20 to send a letter to Africa.  You can do this by buying international stamps or just using three regular stamps.

Elder Mikel North
South Africa Durban Mission
PO Box 1741
Wandsbeck 3631
South Africa


Monday, July 20, 2015

Week 4 begins

Elder Jena and Elder North and their new car.
Area: Kimberly, South Africa
Companion: Elder Jena
July 20, 2015

So some clarification on my last email, I talked about yobo gobo and that was wrong its actually yebo gogo. Yebo means yes. I also said that baba means dude, but it actually means father. Which makes sense because we call our trainers baba.  

In mission life your father is the person who trains you.  A son is a person you train.  

I can't remember if I talked about the babies on backs or not so Ill just say it again if I did. Just like you see in the movies the women here do put their babies on their back they just tie them there with blankets haha its pretty funny. and people do carry stuff on their heads. 

We got a different car this week because apparently we had the wrong one so we have a manual now, which is pretty cool because I'll get some practice. My companion doesn't like driving that much so I do most of it which scared me when we got the manual. It's not bad and I've gotten pretty good. Its a lot easier than Haileys car haha :) Every now and then I forget that they drive on the left and I'll make a turn and be on the right and everyone yells at me haha so hopefully that stops happening.

On the weekends here people go nuts they all drink and smoke like crazy and by the end of the night everyone is drunk and its pretty funny but sucks too because its hard to find people to teach.

Check out the brick on the white line, if you hit it down you score!
I get to play soccer at least once a week which is fun, I'm the only white guy usually. Here in Kimberly there are no white guys that play soccer. Umlungu is the zulu word for white boy its pronounced like oomloongu. in some places you will hear the kids say that but I call myself umlungu. 

We work with the youth a lot but since there aren't many we work with a kid named Smallz just about every day, its cool because there is no way I would want to spend all day every day with the missionaries but he does.

Taxis here are nuts!  They are like mini vans and will just stop whenever they want so you have to be careful if you are behind one. The roads seem to all be one lane unless you are downtown so you just cross to the other side of the road and pass people all the time.

We do a lot of less active work in Kimberly so we don't have a lot of people we are teaching at the moment but one of them is Erikar, she is a member of another church but is really nice and seems to be receptive. When she prays she begins every sentence with My Father, which I thought was strange until I went to church and a lot of people do that.

Another person we are teaching is Dean he is Afrikaans and plays rugby, it was really cool following up with him because he told us he had a bad week but for some reason it didn't bother him. He had a new out look on life after we taught the plan of salvation to him and he said that's what helped his week. He seems to be really receptive and likes the message we share, he told us we answered a lot of questions he has struggled with since he was a kid. So we had a great lesson with him and he walked us out and while doing so pulled out a pack of cigarettes which sucks because it means its going to be a long road a head of us.
All the door keys look like this here.
We like to decorate our planners with pictures.

Cutting down a lemon tree for service.  When somone dies
they put this huge tent up over their yard so we had to
cut this tree down to make room for the tent to go.
A Gobo died.

It is funny to me ho wmuch they lock the things up.  The
best part is the library is actually
a vault.  I'll have to get a picture of it sometime.

Elder Jena and a lemon tree we are cutting down.

The lemons are HUGE

Elder Jena looking on as Elder North pretends to eat a lemon.

The garden we work in on Saturday's
for Mormon Helping Hands

Twonship Bingo.  We also call the
township the Kasi

A Wood Pecker

I can't remember if I told you about Martha so I will again. Martha is a less active and hasn't been coming to church so we visited her and talked for a while, she had some questions and we had a really powerful lesson. After which she asked for a blessing which I gave, It was rough because her full name is Tswana (a nationality) and so it's a different language and impossible to pronounce. I felt the spirit so strongly in that blessing and that helped me to know there is where I am supposed to be.

I do run into a lot of people that I don't understand because they either speak Afrikaans, Tswana, Zulu, Xhosa, Shona and I think there's another I cant think of right now.

I love you all and miss you like crazy so write me, it helps to know you all didnt forget about me! haha but really I do love mail and hand written letters make you feel really cool out here. 

I recieved two letters from mah, one form Taylynne, and one from Gobo Marry.

God is good, all the time

Elder North

Looks like he is getting mail so please take the time to write him.  You can use international stamps or you can do what I do and just put three regular stamps on it.  Missionaries don't have a lot of time for e-mail and they don't get to keep those and carry them around so if you hand write him he has time to savor it.

Elder Mikel North
South Africa Durban Mission
PO Box 1741
Wandsbeck 3631
South Africa

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Outside the Johannesburg Temple
Date:  July 13, 2015
Area:  Kimberly, South Africa
Companion:  Elder Jena
Week 3

Well everyone what can I say? I'm in Africa! Its kinda weird because, no there aren't lions walking the streets and there are buildings... haha It kinda feels like I'm just in some other state or country, not Africa until you go to the township than it feels like Africa.

So some sayings and things I've learned that are cool..

My companion and boarding mates like to say God is good.... and then someone else says, all the time. so remember that God is good all the time. its ture!

When walking through peoples gates to get to the door you hold your bag down by your feet so you don't get bitten. Dogs aren't pets here, they are security!

Everyone says  YO! or like JYO so thats cool haha

When knocking on doors in the township or if its a shanty (tin house) you yell clo clo but its a click and sounds really cool. its like saying knock knock.
Cool tire art in Kimberly
The most famous thing they say is Eish like when something bad happens or you are like oh crap you just say eish.
There is a word baba which means something along the lines of dude i guess. Like we call each other baba sometimes. ( Ill say eish baba when my companion does something) and that's what you call your trainer. You also call your trainer your father and you are born in your first area. (That is normal mission lingo)  So I was born in Kimberly which is what we like to call outer darkness because its like we aren't a part of the mission. We are so far from everyone that we are left to fend for ourselves. There are two other missionaries in our boarding. (apartment) Elder Katimbo and Elder Angyman. My Companion is Elder Jena they are all black. 

When you serve in an area with a lot of Indian people you will sometimes put the toilet paper in the fridge because the food is so hot that well you know.... What goes in must come out and that cool toilet paper will really feel good haha

Grandmas here are called gobos. So there are phone signs that say yobo gobo which means hello grandma haha I don't know, its sounds funny to me. but when we meet with elderly women we call the gobos. For example we wouldn't say Sister Matwaba we would say Gobo Matwaba.

A really cool quote I heard this Sunday was "You don't go through the temple. The temple goes through you" and that is so true! I love the temple and I'm sad I don;t get to go to it for 2 years :(

My companion and roommates also say Life is tuff all the time haha and My brother but you need to roll the R's and say it like them.

People here are super Homophobic which is different and just interesting.

Yes the toilet does flush the other way.

I tried pap! its eh. it doesn't taste like much but it sits in your stomach all night and makes you very tired.
Pap, also known as mieliepap in South Africa, is a traditional
porridge/polenta made from mielie-meal
and a staple food of the Bantu inhabitants of Southern Africa.

So anyways, Here I am in Kimberly. So I left the MTC and went to the mission home where I met the mission president and his wife. Way cool and nice people! They announced where I was going and it happens to be Kimberly which is the furthest place in the mission. I got on a bus that night around 7pm I think and then got to Bloomfentein around 5 in the morning. From there I went to the boarding (apartment) in Bloom and stayed the night with the Elders there.  The next day we got up and played some soccer which is fun!  Then drove the extra two hours to Kimberly (like i said outer darkness) My companion is Elder Jena he is from Pritoria which is above JoBurg. He is a pretty cool guy but sleeps too much haha. 
Sister Mickleson, Elder North, and President Mickleson
Elder North and Elder Jena
Its been ruff being away from home, family and friends. And I've been getting home sick but hopefully that goes away soon! The next day we went straight to work tracting and all. It's weird teaching lessons, my companion does a lot of the talking while i just bare testimony to what is being said.

I've been driving a lot here and every now and then I forget and drive on the wrong side of the road which is the right side back home. I'm lucky too because the car we have in Kimberly is an automatic.

I have had some incredible experiences already!  We are focusing on a lot of inactive work.  We were teaching a women named Martha who hasn't been coming to church so we had a powerful lesson with her where I shed some tears and had to fight not to cry the whole time.  At the end of the lesson I gave her a blessing and I could just feel the spirit directing me in what to say, what she needed to hear. I hope she starts coming to church. That was my first big step into loving the people here. I know if I can love them then I won't miss home so much and I will start to love my mission. 

Me and Elder Jena teach mostly in the town which are the nicer houses. All the houses here have gates with crazy spikes on them and on top of the walls so its hard to get in. We do teach in the township as well. those houses are
about the size of my living room back home maybe a little bigger. It depends on the house. Usually they also have shanty's behind them which are the tin houses which are about the size of a singe car garage space maybe a little more. It really humbled me and showed me how blessed I am. The people in the township are much easier to get into their homes and teach. Where there are high walls there are high walls is what we say about the town. People don't have grass here so they just have sand/dirt and instead of watering their lawn they rake their dirt yard.

There are spikes like this on the walls of every house in the town. Townships only have small link chain fences so nothing this fancy, plus they have nothing to steal so their gates aren't locked and you just walk in. But the towns have high walls with these spikes and dogs the bark like crazy.) My companion from the MTC has already been bitten in the butt by a dog so you gotta be careful out here haha

They also use the word mission different here. For example I'm not on my mission I am on mission. Or I don't know people going on a mission I know people going on mission. haha that's weird.

To welcome me to south Africa and  my area in Kimberly, we didn't have water from Friday to Sunday night so that sucked haha no water for three days! but hey its Africa haha.

The milk we buy here is called long life milk and last for a year, but taste pretty good.
Elder Jena and I went to a soccer match. Soccer is huge here and there were so many people there!!!   In the township I am the only white person haha. No white people live in the township so when I was at the soccer game people thought I was from the Daily Sun news because I was dressed nice and white :) I also thought I was going to get mugged but didn't so that's good!

Since I didn't get to send any pictures my companion said we could come back after our appointments so here are a few pictures i took.

Also some more about Kimberly...

I have eaten more rice in one week here than I did in three months or more at home.  I have rice every night with dinner and usually with lunch. My companion and Elder Angyman do a really good job at cooking for all of us which is nice because I really miss mom cooking for me. Let me tell you all moving out aint all its cracked up to be, you have to do EVERYTHING and it kinda sucks a little. Especially when I can't just call to ask how to do something or come visit. 

Elder Angyman is from Ghana and Elder Katimbo is from Uganda Kampala.

This was a really cool door of a less
active we went to visit.. 
The women here all carry their babies on their back so that's something different that I've never seen before. They also do carry stuff on their head so that's cool.

There are no white people in the township so whenever we go there I am the only white guy. Since the people there don't have any money they put gold on their teeth to make it look like they do have money. To me it just makes it look like they have a bunch of cavities and its super gross.

Another word that they say in all of Africa is powerful. They say it for everything. Things aren't good, they aren't strong, they aren't spiritual, they are powerful!

Celebrating Elder Thorkelson's birthday was a blast at the MTC.
In the township you see kids on every other street playing soccer in the road which is way cool. They don't have goals or anything so they put a brick on both ends and you hit the brick instead of going through a goal. Its really cool and a fun way to play because its hard to score. We played that way this morning for p day with a way flat ball because that's all we had.

when you shake peoples hands here a lot of time you put your other hand on your elbow and kind of bow to be respect full. there is also this way cool snap thing everyone does when you shake their hand, as you pull your hand away you curl your fingers and put yours and the other persons thumbs together and pull and it makes a snap sound.

Jo'Burg Temple
Its cool but different and I miss you all! I know this is where I need to be and I would really like to hear from all of you and have your support! I know this church is true. I can feel it! It's so hard and sometimes I honestly just want to come home, but I cant, because I know something that the people of south Africa need to know. That is that God loves each and every single one of his children, he sent his son Jesus Christ to suffer and die for us that we may see him again. I know families are forever. That the relations built here on earth don't end here. I know that there is a plan for all of us, a perfect plan to know where we are from, why we are here, and where we are going. I know that through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost and most importantly enduring to the end, we can come to know our Father in Heaven and the love He has for us. I love you all and really wish I could still be with you but I more greatly desire to grow and become the person that the Lord needs me to be. To grow from the boy I am to a man, to a father, and someone willing to put his shoulder to the wheel.

I haven't gotten any mail yet which is a bummer and since I'm in Kimberly I get mail less often because they won't travel to give it to me. So I'll get mail prob every six weeks or sooner if we have to drive to bloom for something. But I would love to get letters from you all so don't hesitate to send me some:)

desk at the MTC
Please write me! Love 
Elder North

It costs $1.20 and you can buy forever international stamps.

Elder Mikel North
South Africa Durban Mission
PO Box 1741
Wandsbeck 3631
South Africa

Monday, July 6, 2015

Greeting from the South Africa MTC

Elder North pulling a face in this picture.
Your missionary is going to be leaving the MTC at 5:45am tomorrow.  Tonight, President Collins and I will meet with them to teach them for the last time.  They will rise early in the morning, eat breakfast, load their luggage, and meet together for our send-off devotional.  They all leave together for the airport.  I can't believe it is time for them to move on to their missions.  It always goes by too quickly for me.  This group was extra sweet, obedient, focused, and diligent in their learning.  I love them and I'm going to miss them for sure.  It is fun though to see how anxious and enthusiastic they are about getting to their missions and getting to work.  They are ready to become the consecrated missionaries the Lord wants and needs.

With love,
Sister Collins

So excited to get this from Sister Collins.  She has done a wonderful job keeping the parents informed while our missionaries have been at the Johannesburg MTC.  I appreciate her very much.  If we are lucky we will get to hear from Elder North's mission president this week letting us know he arrived in Durban and where he will be serving and with who.  We might not hear from him until his P-day on Monday the 7th however.  

Elder North would love to hear from you and you are welcome to send him a quick greeting through e-mail but remember because of his short time to reply he will not have time to reply to everyone personally.  His e-mail is mikel.north@myldsmail.net. 

He would love regular mail if you would like to send him some.  It costs $1.20 to send a letter to South Africa.  This can be done with multiple stamps or an international stamp.  His address is.

Elder Mikel North
South Africa Durban Mission
PO Box 1741
Wandsbeck 3631
South Africa

Thanks for your love and support!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Half way through the MTC

Area:  Johannesburg MTC
Companion:  Elder Benissan
Week 2

So I don't know where to begin because so much goes on.

I miss my Zaner so that's hard sometimes but I've only had one night when I got really home sick and that was because we watched meet the Mormons and the guy was from Utah and he got dropped off at the airport just like me.

Elder Doney is from Orem, Elder Thorkelson and Shweitzer are from St George. Elder Erckenbrack is from American Fork and Elder Michelson is from Calgary Canada. My companion is from here, Jo'burg. and my other roommate is Elder Ntuzela from Durban and he speaks Zulu so I've been able to learn how to greet people.

The MTC is like a prison we only got to leave to go to the temple and today while the new endowies went to the temple again we have a pday which is why I'm emailing. So we were able to walk to a convenience store but that's it. You feel like you are in a zombie Apocalypse. 

The food here is pretty normal, the taste is different and like spaghetti was sweet. so that was super odd. We don't eat much strange food here if any and the natives say don't think this is how it all taste because it isn't that good here haha.
The humor here is a little different so all the Africans will laugh at something and then the Americans just look around like what? haha. My companion is Elder Benisson and he makes me laugh a lot because he says "what the hell" a lot and at first i was like wo whats going on but here that's not swearing haha so that's weird because all the Americans you can see it in their faces when someone says that but they don't flinch. 

Oh another funny thing they say his going on mission, or when i was on mission, or when you are on mission. They dont say on a mission haha just little things like that all over the place.

Every day is packed we have like 16 hour days just jammed full of work. We wake up at 6 every morning and get ready for the day and say our own prayers and then in my room we all say a "family prayer" together. My room consists off Elder Michelson from Canada. his comp Elder Ntuzela from Durban! and he speaks Zulu so he has been giving us some help with that. and My companion Elder Benissan he is from Jo'burg and a cool guy.
Breakfast starts at 7, not 7:01 at 7. We try to start the day of with exact obedience and we get told about obedience a lot. Like you don't understand how often they tell us to be exactly obedient. There is a reason though, that's how miracles happen.
We start either class or comp study at 7:30 and we stay in class and learn and read and just constantly being trained till lunch. Most days we teach investigators sometime in there. (not real investigators, but they are dang good actors) If the lesson dosn't go well I get so frustrated so I need to work on that but when it goes well I just feel on top of the clouds. It makes me just so excited for the field I cant even wait!!!! The feeling of that and the spirit is incredible.
Then its the same thing till dinner at 5. We then have class till 9 and then we have a snack then get ready for bed. We have comp study time, journal writing, prayer with companion, with room, and personal.

I pray like 10 times a day at least and it will be more out in the field.
We do have sports time for an hour at 3 to 4 and we usually play soccer. I'm the only white guy that plays haha. Its so much fun to get out there and touch the ball and relax from the stress of the MTC for a little. There's an Elder who is just crazy good at dribbling and he only plays bare foot. His name is Elder Ndlovu, I cant even pronounce it.
Its fun being out here in this culture and listening to all their accents they sound like British people. So I hope I pick that up.

We rely on the spirit in everything here at the MTC and Its nice being able to feel it so much. Most the people here are from south Africa, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, and much more. 

I want to hear from all of you and know whats going on. I may not have time to reply with a long email but i will say i got it.
I've gotten no regular mail yet and I don't know if any will come before i leave so I don't know what happens to it if it comes after I'm gone. 
the food is eh, but its not African food its just regular crappy cafeteria food. I cant pronounce anyone's name so that's kind of weird but its cool
We went to the temple on Tuesday and that was so amazing and i got a new scripture case with real Zebra fur on it and i love it! the temple is so amazing and i just felt the spirit stronger than i have in years it was incredible. i love to see the temple!
I leave for Durban this Tuesday so I'm so excited to get out of here! :)
Love you all and want to here from you all
Elder North

This part is from Sister Collins the mission presidents wife, she sent in a separate e-mail with a picture of everyone at the temple.

Greetings from the South Africa MTC

Tuesday we went to the temple.  Temple day is my favorite day.  Before we left the MTC we had a devotional with one of our Area Seventies, Elder Mdleshe.  He taught us beautifully about the principle of obedience.  We had our lunch and then drove to the temple for our session.  We had 9 missionaries who received their own endowments.  It was a beautiful experience to be in the temple with my missionaries.  The best day.

This group is really an extraordinary group of missionaries.  They are doing great and are learning all the things that will make them the Lord's missionaries.  Oh, how I love them.

With love,
Sister Collins