Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

Date:  December 19, 2016
Area:  Richards Bay, South Africa
Companion:  Elder Thornsen

This week I will begin with some stories of how the work this side is going and then I will share a few thoughts that I have about Christmas and the meaning there of.

We had our Mission Christmas party this week, that was a bunch of fun, half of the mission was there so it was good to see some old faces. One in particular who was Elder (Coleman) Nelsen, I had biology with him in high school and he is in my stake back home. It was cool to finally see someone from Riverton!!! We played some games at the Christmas party, did a nativity, and ate a great lunch. Day well spent. The problem was the taxi, because we are trying to save the amount of K's we drive we had to take a taxi which is pretty much a mini van down to Durban, it took about 2 and a half hours to get there and this taxi was ridiculously uncomfortable the entire way.... eish.....
Elder Nelson from back home in Riverton.
This right here is my mission mom!  Sister Thomspon!

A major blessing this week cam for us just yesterday at church. So we visit this Sister who is Less active, she has been inactive for over 11 years and just recently have things begun to change. We meet with her fairly regularly but nothing to grand has come of it. She has been through hell and back with a lot of the trials she has gone through. Well this Sundays we saw her walk through the doors of the chapel. My jaw must have dropped. She came to church!!! we met with her that night and she has committed to get a temple recommend and get her life right before the Lord. As we were meeting with her we that night we made plans to begin teaching her daughter as well. I have been praying for a way to start teaching this family ever since I got here and now those prayers have been answered! Hallelujah. 

Now Christmas!!!!

What is Christmas? Well to me its family, gifts, laughs and fun. 
Nights with grandma, mornings with brothers and sisters. days of anticipation, moments of thrill. hours of waiting and plenty of food. but is that really all? of course its not.

I am so thankful to my wonderful Mom and Dad who did their best to teach us the true meaning of Christmas, that is not about what you get but what you give. I love this time of year because its so naturally centered on Jesus Christ, we hear all to often the story of his birth. It is more than just a story though, it is so much more. It is hope, it is peace, it is joy, that's what the birth is all about, that's what it brings to me. When you are a missionary you spend Christmas away from your family for two years.... its tough... it really is haha. I remember last year at this time and especially Christmas day, nothing like it used to be and you quickly realize how important being with those you loved and celebrating together really is. You see how much you miss that nativity you used to dread every year. you realize that the most exciting part isn't opening gifts but seeing someones face light up and spreading that light to each other. I want to keep it short and I don't want to give a 30 minute talk, although I could on the subject. Its a season of cold weather, Now if you are anything like me, the cold brings us close. haha "cuddle weather" as I like to say, well isn't that a message in it of its self. We are supposed to come together, now I don't mean we have to physically be together but together in love and spirit. Its a season to make memories that last. As we remember the birth of our savior let us show that we love him in word and deed this year. do something more. the church has wonderful insights on this year and a bunch of daily posted videos on how we can really #Light The World  we can spread the Light of Christ. its really simple and makes you feel all the warm and fuzzes inside.  

Well There was just a bit of scattered thoughts and words that probably dont make too much sense but its alright. all in all I know that my Savior lives and loves me, and each one of you! Merry Christmas!

Elder North

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Jeepers time is gone going!

My comp and I got a nice roti wrap :)
Date:  December 12, 2016
Area:  Richards Bay, South Africa
Companion:  Elder Thornsen

Yes I know my english is getting really really bad.... just dont judge to much. 

So this week just flew past as well and a lot of things were happening all over the place. So on Wednesday we got to go on exchanges with the assistance in Durban. so we drove to stanger which is an hour away and met them and they took us the next hour to Durban. Its always good to seem them because the AP's are Elder Adams, former comp, and Elder Bennison, MTC comp. so I know them both decently well and its good to catch up. they work so hard and do so much so they are always just beat tired. 

The next day the assistance got a call and had to leave. sooo we didnt even end up going on exchanges with them. so I went out with the Elders in Berea, Elder Sithole and Elder Huntington. We had an awesome day and taught a powerful lady about the word of wisdom she has some other personal issues she is working on before she can get baptized but she is just power. We met some members at their place and their were two sisters who are not members. so we were talking and getting to know them. they were super cool and we enjoyed the time we had to get to know them and then they fed us dinner which was amazing. She cooked us pap but her pap was mixed with butter and potato so it was almost like mashed potatoes but more like pap. I dont know how to explain it unless you have had pap before. it was super good.
Downtown Durban

Well because the assistance had to leave to take care of some things we had to stay another night in Durban. So we got back to our are in the afternoon of the next day. When we got home the Elders from Port Durnford where there so we had to take them home, they live about 30 minutes away, this was just after driving three hours back to our home from durban. after getting to PD we had to go to Enseleni another 30 minutes to do an interview. after that we drove another 30 minutes to our place, we drove for like 4 and a half hours just to get to our area that day. it was rough.

We have been having a lot of opposition in the work lately with investigators not keeping commitments or just not progressing and we have to drop them (stop seeing them and look for new people to teach) so this week not much changed until Saturday. We taught our guy Sphe and focused a lot about the importance of church, we also taught Zanele and her sister. Her sister seemed super interested and asked us a lot of questions about Joseph smith. When we gave her a book of Mormon and asked her to read the introduction page she said, what just one page we then showed her where to start in first Nephi chapter 1! She seemed super excited to read so we pray she does. sadly she said she had to go to her church this week. but we will see her again tomorrow and see where that takes us.
Plumbing service has an awesome slogan!

 We really have been focusing on one in particular named Sphe, he is a young man going into his senior year so he is at a prime age for the gospel and could still go on mission if he gets baptized. His family is super traditional and are all sangoma traditional witch doctors. He doesn't think that the traditional belief is true at all and has great faith in Christ. He hadn't come to church though the past few weeks and we knew that if he didn't come now it was time to drop him. It was hard to come to that conclusion because he is such a great young man and understands so well everything that we teach him. He retains the information well and has a testimony of the book of Mormon. We let him know that if he didn't come to church that this would be our last visit and that we need to spend our time with people who are serious about coming unto Christ. Well Church started and he was no where to be found. I personally thought that, that was it. we are no longer teaching this guy. He wont come to church. With ten minutes left of sacrament meeting he walked in the door. I was pretty tired during the meeting and my mind was else where. Immediately after I saw Sphe in the door way my head sprung up and I turned to my companion. I am sure the smile on my face was just as big as the one on his as we finally had a break through with an investigator. its been a tough journey the past little while here in Richards bay to get a investigator to really come to church and keep all of our commitments. it was a much needed answer to many prayers and fasts. I think he really enjoyed church and should be getting baptized in the next coming weeks.
#Light the world
Exchanges with Elder Sithole and Huntington
After that we went to go teach Mpume, now we tried to see her during the week but it didnt go to well, she hadnt read because she was super busy, we still tried to sit down and share something but she kept getting up to do stuff so we ended up leaving without sharing anything. We decided to try her again Sunday afternoon and we were able to have an incredible lesson about the plan of salvation. She really understands and just puts things together. she states answers to questions we havnt even asked her yet. We are really hoping that she will come to church this week and get baptized soon. She says to know that the things we teach are true because she feels more and more peace and joy and we talk and as she reads. We encouraged her to continue down the path of reading and studying and praying that she will be able to gain a firm testimony. God will always confirm truth so we can be sure of it. 

At the end of the day we went to visit Njabulo (happy) This is a sweet dude. He came to church out of the blue one day and so we of course started talking to him. He is engaged to a member from new castle so they came together. we visted with him sunday night and got to know him a bit more and began to teach about how we can have eternal and happy families through the message of the restored gospel. We look forward to going to see him this week and really start teaching. He has so much potential to progress. I have never taught a family that actually has come to church so this is awesome!

I know that God does indeed lift us in the hour of our need. God being our Father in Heaven wants nothing but good for us. All that happens and is allowed to happen is really intended for our gain and benifit. its just really really hard to see it sometimes. If we can just take grasp to that simple truth that God is our Father and a perfect on in fact. That a perfect Father would only do what he know was good for his children. That a perfect Father wants the best for His children and would give them every opportunity to learn and become better than they currently are. If we just understand that principle, that truth. Our whole live really changes, our perspective takes a shift. our views are broadened. I know that we receive no witness until after that trial of our faith. As a missionary I see many trials that people go through each day. I do see people suffering in poverty and sickness but through those trials they come to find the true and living God, they come to know Him and feel his presence. The same applies for me and you. When we are going through what seems to be dark times, we must do the only thing we seemingly can. Look up to the Light of our saviour, Cry out His name in our need. Allow the Mercy of Jesus to lift and love you. He will carry you. He does carry me. I have a bit of a love hate relationship with trials. I love them after they are done as I look back and see the whole picture. That is usually when I can see the benifit that has come, the growth that was needed. We sometimes think that because God loves us, it is supposed to be easy. Well its not easy. but its is not because he dosnt love us. It is only because He loves us and wants us to return to live with Him again
Elder Thorsen and I didn't have an oppurtunity to take our
wonderful Elders Dooley and Harper on Exchanges so
we invited them over for a nice home cooked dinner and we did
the interviews there.  #momskills

I hope this isnt all confusing or rambling. This season is such a joyous time. We are given ample oportunity to turn and reflect towards the savior who is Christ.  Christmas is wonderful! Christ is wonderful!

Just know that however you are feeling, especially if you are feeling low. That there is Light, He is the Light. There is joy at the end of this road. there is hope.

I know that God lives. I know it, I really do. so can you. 

Love you all and hope you keep the flame of faith burning within your hearts this holiday season,

Elder North

Saturday, December 10, 2016

So this week was a tough one, but nothing we can handle!

Date:  December 5, 2016
Area:  Richards Bay, South Africa
Companion:  Elder Thornsen

Tough for many reasons. A lot of set backs came to us as people who seemed promising stoped progressing or didnt keep commitments. We had a lot of people as potentials for baptism and had to drop about half of them... eish.... life is tough. But no mater that, we know that if we arn't facing opposition that we arn't doing something right. Satan will always try to stop us from progressing and moving forward. His goal is our discouragement, suffering, pain, and sorrow.  We have the ability to choose whether or not we give that to him. As soon as we start doing what brings us closer to God and eternal joy the advisory accelerates his pace to try to thwart us in our endeavors to grow. No matter how tough things get I like to look at the quote from Elder Jeffery R. Holland that says "Dont you give up, dont you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. there is help and happiness ahead.... it will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come." "There always is light at the end of the tunnel." 

We did have some great things happen to us this week also. 

I got the chance to take two of the Elders in our zone out for exchanges. I was first with Elder Moore, he is from Idaho. He is a super fly guy and also likes computer programming and might study it in the future. We had our District Development Meeting in the morning which turned into a bit of a dance party. We were told that we needed to put together a video for the Christmas party so we did that. It was fun.

We then went out to the area. We had to mix up our schedule becasue of cancellations and us being late. We decided to follow up with one of our investigators named Mpume, she is spectacular. We gave her a Plan of Salvation pamphlet to read as a commitment along with Alma chapter 40.  Even though our appointment was scheduled for the next day. When we got to her home we weren't expecting her to have already read the pamphlet, most people read day of. She to our surprise read and was currently reading the Book of Mormon! We sat down for a few minutes, we were in a bit of a rush to get to the next appointment. We asked her what she understood from the pamphlet that she read and her reply was phenomenal. She told us that she never knew that we lived with God as spirits before earth and that we needed a body. She told us in a fantastic way that "death is not the end, its only the beginning." We of course nodded our heads in agreement with jaws dropped as she continued to give detail after detail of the plan of salvation and the three kingdoms and how she would love to live with God in the highest kingdom. We explained a few more details of the exciting plan and left with a hymn. She hopefully will get baptized this Christmas which would be such a blessing to us and of course to her! She sadly couldnt come to church this week due to a death in the family. It was cool to see her go from being sad to then a beam of light radiate from her as she smile at us and said but I know Gods plan. It is incredible how much the message of the restored gospel can change our lives. It gives purpose and direction. Peace and blessings. 

Next I went on exchanges with Elder Hansen. I brought him to my area and we had a challenge to get 40 referrals that day. Sadly we didn't get it but we got over half way so thats good. We walked around a market and the taxi rank and just talked to people for a few hours. Elder Hansen is an incredible missionary and I look up to him a lot and learned a lot from how he teaches and how excited he is to teach. We worked hard in the morning then went and enjoyed the view of the beach from the area and went back to work. We taught a power lesson to a Xhosa man named Shaun. We went to his place by accident, I was thinking of someone else when we went there but it turned out to be an awesome mistake. We got there just as he was arriving and then he invited us in. We asked if he had read and he did! incredible. We taught him the restoration of gospel through the prophet Joseph smith for the next two hours. We talked about the nature and characteristics of God and then invited him to be baptized. We hope that he progress and will be able to find a way to come to church.

The biggest struggle that we are facing in our area is that we work a lot in the township called Mzingazi. It is some distance from town and the chapel.  People struggle trying to get there. We have been trying to think of ways to help get these people to chruch. We have now got the go ahead to start trying to set up cottage meetings and sacrament out there. We will be spending the next month or so finding less actives and actives who stay in Mzingazi and then once we have that we can look at setting up meetings there. After we get that far we will be looking at sending two missionaries there to get a branch set up. It would be nice for us to help us focus in town and find people that will actually be able to get to church.

Elder Thorsen and I had a bit of a rough day in the area as people just seemed to be unavailable, unresponsive and non progressive. It was sad but then we were able to meet Zanele. She is an investigator who has been eh from the start. Hasn't shown much interest and hasn't progressed. We sat down to follow up with her and chat. After a good while of chatting she finally asked us. "so can you tell me more about these kingdoms?" We were blown away that she had read. We talked to find out if she really read or just saw the bold points in the pamphlet but it was soon enough clear that she did read and wanted to know more. We spent the next while teaching her about life after death and how we can live with our loved ones again. It was a much needed tender mercy at the end of a long day.

We also had district conference this week which was a cool thing. President Thompson came down and spoke in it and it was incredible. That guy is just power. so much faith, so much love, so much power! He gave some awesome talks over the course of the conference and one the stood out in particular to me was about awaking and arising!  How we must awake and arise, what it means to awake and arise.

Also a surprise came to us before the conference. We were singing with the choir when all of the sudden we didn't have enough females to voice their part so they decided to give the missionaries a duet.... eish... so my companion and I sang a duet in district conference which was scary and fun.

Anyways I think thats enough for today! Love you all, stay blessed!
Elder North

Sunday, December 4, 2016

This week was power, sorry for the short email buuuttt....

Date:  November 28, 2016
Area:  Richards Bay, South Africa
Companion:  Elder Thorsen

This week we drove 750miles, YES miles thats crazy! we had MLC in ladysmith this week where we got to meet with all the other zone leaders and talk about stuff with the mission prez.  It was super sweet! :)
Elder Thorkolsen, Smith, Thorsen, and yours truly.
Elder Shinga
Elder Katimbo from Kimberly.  It has been over a year
since I saw him last.  He goes home in about 3 months.
Elder Depriest
Isn't our mission prez cute!
Playing games for FHE at Mission Home
We also got to teach Baba Nnkosi and we will see him again tonight.  He is a reverend for his church and was in Swaziland this weeked for church stuff, buuuutttt he said that he would read the Book of Mormon and if it is true he will follow! Well, if he reads then its game over! It is  true and he will know it! Our last lesson was really grand, the spirit was strong and Baba was nigh to tears at the end as we testified of the Book of Mormon.

We found a new lady this week who is power, her name is Mpume and she is cool. We extended a baptismal date the first time we sat with her and she accepted!  It was stupendous! We just taught her about the restoration and she was getting everything, Usually when we ask question and get them thinking its kinda hard. They dont always put things together but she was getting it, she was putting it all together which is just awesome, she is awesome, mission is awesome! 

Weekly planning at the beach.
Elder Harpers glasses.

We were able to teach Sphe as well and he is stud x2! We taught him about the Book of Mormon and when we followed up with him about it he bore a simple and powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon. He said "I just feel like its real" and that was cool! Sadly he wasn't able to come to church, not sure why yet. We are out of airtime and can't call anyone so we will be seeing him tomorrow.  I hope he gets baptized.
Toothpaste proves word of wisdom!

We are really trying to set things on fire and make December an incredibly awesome month. It's tough though because December is summer here and holiday and people party for days! We set a goal for the zone in baptisms and in our area we are going to try to get 10 by the end of December, well this area usually get ten a year so its gonna be tough but it is possible. I mean all we need to do is find one more family to teach and then boom! So much prayer and fasting will be put into effect.  

We went to visit someone at the hospital.  All these beds and stuff were pushed up against a door.  We think they must have had a small zombie outbreak.

Well I am out of time so I gotta go buuuuuuuuttttttttt, I love ya'll lots! stay blessed!

Elder North

Missionary or ......