Thursday, 27 December 2012

23rd Dec 2012 Mthatha, South Africa


Mom and Dad
I have not yet received the package, so I guess I will have a late Christmas this year... But that's ok! Sounds like a classic Canadian Christmas at -20. It's about +35 here right now... Sweltering hot! But my next Christmas is going to be frigidly cold that's for sure.
 It's crazy how soon Ben and Anthony will be home! It feels like we were just in Ontario for Anthony’s farewell! Crazy taco! I'll email for sure just after I finish this! Well I don't need to say much more because I'll talk to you all tomorrow! Merry Christmas! I love you!! TOO MUCH!!!
Remind me to sing Happy Bday for you mom!
Now for the week…The work is slowing down alot for the holidays that's for sure! We did have a couple really cool experiences though! We went to an investigator's house for an appointment and she wasn't home, but her backyard neighbor was outside and we were able to talk to him, and he wanted us to come back to visit his family! It was pretty sweet! Potential Father-led family! I love Missionary work!
 
 Also we were Christmas Caroling (but not really because they don’t go to other houses, they just sing a bunch of carol's in the home) at a members home, and she had her backyard tenants there as well, and after talking with her for a bit, she told us how her husband was in the hospital for a month now because of an accident of being pushed off of a moving train! He had blood clotting in his head and internal bleeding in his head. He was in the hospital and was recovering but slowly. He was at the point where he could move a little bit and could mumble a couple of words. We suggested that we could give him a blessing and she wanted it. The next day we went to the hospital and my companion gave his first blessing. It was awesome and the spirit was strong and I just felt such a love for this man and his family. We still need to follow up and see how he is doing, but that is a potential father-led family! This work is great! I love it too much!

 
We were also invited to a circumcision ceremony this week of a member who went to the bush! When you are a xhosa, and you become old enough, they send you to "the bush"
where you go to get circumcised. They do that to become a "man." In order to be a man you have to go to the bush. So we went to a member's ceremony once he returned from the bush. It was pretty cool and there was a lot of dancing and singing and stuff. I attached a couple pics.


 We also were invited to a new investigator's Bday party which was fun! But at every social event in this country, there is always alcohol, which is really annoying...

 
 Also the weather is getting very hot!!!! Up in the mid to high 30's every day! And every night a thunder storm rolls in and it dumps rain! It is really strange weather here... oh well... Also at church on Sunday there was a member from Khayelitsha who was home in Mthatha for the holidays! That was awesome! I got to chat with her about the people in Khayelitsha! It was awesome! I miss that place! But this week is Christmas! Woot!!! I'm so stoked to skype home tomorrow! We can't go anywhere unless it is a set Dinner Appointment, and we need to be in our flat's by 6pm. Plus today is pday and tomorrow Christmas, so 2 pdays in a row!!! Woot! haha! Well I best be getting off here! My time is far spent! Thanks to everyone for the support! I love you all! HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Don't get caught up in the worldly stupor of Christmas!
 
 Remember what matters most! The Birth of the Son of God! The one who performed the Atonement and made it possible for us to all return to live with Heavenly Father again if we but learn and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I know that Jesus Christ Lives! I know that His church has been restored to the Earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith! I know the Book of Mormon is the Word of God and is true! I know this now better than I ever have before! Mission is a tough time and it has given for lots of times of struggle and sometimes doubt, but through it all, the truth prevails, and I know for a surety of the truthfulness of these things!

 I challenge anyone who is reading this to come to know of the truth of these things for yourself by reading the Book of Mormon, ponder and pray to ask God himself of its truthfulness! When you come to know it is true than it is the greatest knowledge you could ever receive, EVER! But you need to try. There's nothing to lose, only Eternity to Gain! I know it's true, and I love it! And I live it!

 I wish you all a Merry Little Christmas (I've had Marshall's Christmas Card from last year posted on my wall for a year now!) I love you all!
-Elder Jones-

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

17th Dec 2012 Mthatha South Africa


No pictures this week. Sorry.

Hi mom and dad,

I love you both so much! Thanks for the pictures! I really enjoyed them! Paha! Dad as Santa! Thought I’d never see the day! I bet you did an awesome job dad!

My companion is fine with his picture being on facebook. I told him about the missionary moms website thing and he'll tell his mom, thanks!

As for the phone number to call on, the office sent that number to every missionary, whether they were from the states or from Fiji or from England or wherever... so I think it's the same for everyone... I’ll ask though... But for the Skype, we are still not 100% sure yet, but we are at a 90% chance that we can Skype on Christmas. We are going to use a member’s laptop and he is arranging for us to get internet and everything we should know by today for sure what’s what, but definitely next Monday we will know for certain.
Paha! East London is here in South Africa. The English settled South Africa, so alot of names are similar here to there. East London is about 3 hours drive from Mthatha. We don't have to take any pills for malaria... There are no problems with Malaria here in our mission.

Now this week has been awesome! We went to East London on Tuesday (a city here in South Africa, about 3 hours drive from Mthatha... not in England!) In East London we had a multizone Christmas Conference! It was awesome! Queenstown Zone, East London Zone, and Mdansane Zone. We got some sweet training from the Assistants and also from President Wood and Sister Wood!

 It was really nice! I learned alot about Christ like attributes and about gratitude specifically! President Wood challenged us to go for a whole week only saying things that we are grateful for in our prayers! In every single prayer for a week not to ask for one single thing but only to give thanks! So I took the challenge and it is really awesome! I challenge anyone who is reading this to do the same thing! It's hard when it comes to blessing food because you can't ask for blessings, but you can say that you are grateful for the blessings you will receive from the food you are about to eat. I have only once slipped up and asked for something, but so far I've been doing well, and I have found that my whole perspective on praying has changed! I am really able to see the plenteous abundance of blessings that Heavenly Father has blessed me with! It's awesome! I'm really enjoying it! It's a little strange in appts though when I am asked to pray and I don't ask for anything but I just thank... anyways...

The conference was awesome! I got a plastic Sword for my Christmas gift! We did a white elephant gift exchange thing, and the limit was R20 ($2.25) and I got a sword! It's awesome! I wish I had pictures of it to send. I'll get some this week!

We also watched a movie! Each Christmas President shows a movie, and this time we watched a movie called "Courageous." I think everybody should watch that movie! It is really nice and has an awesome message! WATCH IT!!!

After the conference this week though, we drove back to Mthatha and started to work. It has been hard to work lately because of dropped appointments or people falling through, but we have been able to see some tender mercies of the Lord and some awesome miracles! We were shopping at a grocery store and a lady walked up to us and started talking with us and turned out that she was a member from Grahams town and she doesn't know where the church is and she hasn't been in 4 months and so we are going to get her a map and show her where and visit her! How awesome! It's all one work! Whether it's baptizing someone or finding the lost strays, it's all the same! We also had a lady walk up to us randomly and tell us that she used to be taught by missionaries in East London but hasn't for a while, so we arranged for missionaries to see her that side once she gets back! Cool stuff happening! I love mission! It's awesome!

 I'm just having a blast with my district! Especially my companion! He's a blast and the work is picking up! We just need to work a little harder and we will be having some baptism dates set and coming! Also in other news!

The 3 people in Knysna I was preparing for baptism for such a long time and having a bunch of problems with. They were all 3 baptized this Sunday! I wish I could have been there! I love them so much! I miss them too! I'm so happy for them though! And I'm so grateful for the opportunity I had to help them! I LOVE MISSION!!!
Thanks Aunt Terri for everything you do! And everyone else who continuously supports me and who writes me! Everyone who doesn't, I still love all of you! Whether you write or not, I still love you! I understand how hard it is to write people! For those who are still waiting for a reply, it's still coming I promise! I'm working my way through the pile! I haven't forgotten you! I love you all!

-Elder Jones

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

10th Dec 2012 in the city Mthathat, South Africa


HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!! 
I'm a little early but Happy Birthday!!!! I love you so much!!! It's crazy to think that it has been a whole year since I last saw you!!!! Only one more year to go. It has been flying by so quickly! I just want you to know how much I love you and appreciate all you do for me! I have the best mom in the world! I've learned so much from your constant example. I hope that you have an awesome birthday and just know that my B-day gift to you will come on Christmas! (When we talk at Christmas I'll sing you the Happy Birthday song in 3 languages! Remind me...)
 Lot's of love from your African son!   
Thanks for the pictures and email! I have not received the package yet, but we still need to go to the post office tomorrow and pick up our mail, I bet it is just sitting in there waiting. I'm really excited! There are gazillion different churches here in South Africa... You might have to Google it... It's mostly Christian though.
Dad your right, the house does look better with the tree in the window. It actually looks kinda cool with the lights like that! Good work Dad!  
Those chocolates look absolutely delicious! You could sell those here in South Africa for R150 ($16) a packet... That actually doesn't sound like much now that I've said it... R150 is alot of money here though! Just looking at them makes my mouth water! Thanks for sending the pictures of the pictures from Martin Cove. I loved Martin's Cove! Too much fun! Don't worry too much about the length of the emails you send me, but just understand that I might not be able to respond to everything you put in the email... I now pay R25 ($2.75) for 1.5 hours. Doesn't sound like much but that's a loaf of bread and 2 liters of milk here. I've been able to manage my time wisely so far.  
 
Also, as for whether we are skyping or calling for Christmas, I still am not 100% sure. Most likely it's going to be a call though. I will update you more the more I find out. There is still next Monday and the Monday after that that we can figure this out. I'm still on the hunt to find someone that we can go and Skype with. I'll let you know for sure next Monday though. I love you both so much!  
Well, you are probably wondering what happened this week. Did I get transferred or did I stay to see the 3 baptism that we are supposed to have next Sunday? Well... Drum roll…. if you'd like... I was transferred!
I flew to Cape Town and then I flew to Mthatha (aka Umtata) to be the District Leader of a 4 man District. My new companion is Elder Dolben from England. He is sweet! I really enjoy being his companion. He's a lot of fun! He just finished his 12 week training, so he is rather new on mission (same with a bunch of other missionaries these days). He's in the picture with me. 
 
Me and my new companion Elder Dolben from England 
In the pictures it shows a few things that happened this week. One shows how I was demolished by a flea (I killed the flea) and another shows the size of the hail balls that hit us last night, and another shows the countryside just outside Mthatha from a classic village, and another shows me and my comp. 
This Mthatha location is crazy! It's a completely black city (well there are a few white people that live here, but not many... probably 99.99% black, which makes for an interesting city. For driving purposes, there is practically no laws.. People kind of just do whatever they want. It's really fun! Mom would freak out if you saw the kind of traffic I drive in. For some reason though I find I am rather relaxed driving here... I don't know why but I actually enjoy it.  
 
To sum up Mthatha, its insane! The work here though is sweet! Well right now it's rather slow, but I'm going to try hard to get it up to be where it was in Knysna. Already had some really cool experiences with finding people and teaching people this week. The people here are actually fairly intelligent. More intelligent than other townships I've been in, and the here people know English very well! It makes teaching so much easier! It's funny because majority of the people are Xhosa and speak Xhosa, yet they are all very well versed in English! I like it!  
 
Mthathat is kind of in the middle of nowhere though... but that’s ok. This week we are going to East London for a Christmas Zone Conference. I'm excited! I've never been to one before and apparently it goes from morning all the way till night! And we get to watch a movie apparently! Sweet!  
 Thank you so much Grandma and Grandpa! I really appreciate it! And thank you to everyone who is supporting me! You have no idea how much help it is to me while I am out here serving! I love you all so much!  
 
This past week we also went to a wedding of a former investigator, which was pretty sweet! I took a bunch of video's but it's actually quite humorous to watch how the Xhosa's do things here! I enjoyed it though and we got fed nicely too! We were the only white guys there and I couldn't understand a thing that they were saying, but it was fun and the Former investigator really appreciated us coming, in fact he even gave us a table at the front. Out of the hundreds of people that were there, we were in the 3rd table. The 1st table had the reverend and pastor at it, the second table had his immediate family at it, then it was us at the 3rd table and then like 20 other tables. So we were pretty highly esteemed there! And it was funny how the people would just randomly burst out in song. Everything was awesome.
  I gotta go! Time is gone! Love you all!
Elder Jones
 

Thursday, 6 December 2012

3rd Dec 2012 In the city Knysna, South Africa


Hi Mom and Dad  

 
Time is just flying by! Transfers are in 2 days, so Wednesday, but we won't find out what our transfer news is until tonight! Arg! That is always poopy... so I'll let you know next Monday what happened to me and what’s going on with the Christmas call.
 
 
 So Riley ended up settling for a small one eh... It's good to see that the family is doing well though! Just mentioning fish'n chips is making my mouth water! All the food from back home I just miss so much! I am managing to make my eating habits more like home though. I have a good method of frying burgers in the oven, and then I get all the fixings and I have burgers! They are pretty good actually! And here and there I'll have smokeys aswell, but the smokeys and burgers here aren't as good as home... It's honestly like I'm living off of dollar store food...

 

I attached a whole bunch of pictures and I'm going to send another email with a series of pictures that if possible you should put into a panorama or just look at them consecutively and see what we were seeing! My camera doesn't have the panorama feature.

 

We haven’t seen the Christmas Devotional yet... I don't even know if we ever will... This part of the world is way out of the loop! We are so blessed to live in Canada Serving here has given me a huge appreciation for the country which I call home! I love you both! Not much time today to respond. Yet another week! How crazy! I bet it's getting old hearing me start out my blogs the same way every time, but honestly, the time is flying by!

 

Transfers are this week and I won't know until tonight what my transfer news is, so I'll keep ya updated next week. It should be time for me to go though... I've only had 2 areas and it's been a year! I've only had 5 companions and it's been a year! Time for a change I think! But I really really love Knysna! It's an incredible place! Literally the most beautiful area in the mission and I was lucky enough to be here for 6 months! Not to mention the work is great here! If I get transferred, I will miss 3 baptisms that we have set for the 16th of December... this week we were able to give out 5 Baptism Dates. 3 for the 16th of December, and 2 for the 20th of January.

 
 
There's good stuff happening here! I love it! One of the most successful areas in the mission. The Zone Leaders were telling me that Knysna is leading the mission in stats. So that's pretty cool! But I can't just sit in this area my whole mission... I need to have challenges and to be tested! I need to grow, and it’s hard to grow when the area goes so well.

 Anyways... This week it was raining alot but we had some awesome experiences! We had exchanges with the Zone Leaders too, and Elder Critchfield and I had some powerful lessons! One lesson with a less active, who has been a member for 11 years, opened up after sharing most of the lesson and shared how he doesn't think he has ever tried getting a spiritual confirmation that the Book of Mormon was true and now he was willing to read ponder and pray about it to get a testimony for himself. He had always just believed it, but now he wanted to KNOW for himself! That was sweet! 

 

Also we went tracting in town and got a couple potential white investigators, which is awesome! One had a GIANT dog in its front yard and we almost died! but not really... we were fine... then we shared a powerful lesson on eternal families with the Myingwa family and the spirit was so strong and we committed them to prepare for the temple, even though 2 of them aren't baptized yet.
 
 

We also had one of the worst days yet this week. On Saturday, the senior couple from Cape Town, Elder and Sister Oldham, came to inspect our flat. Well it was raining and they took us out for dinner after, which was nice, and then we were planning on having them join us in a couple appointments afterwards. Well our appointments all dropped us then we tried our backup plans, and they all didn't work out. So we tried our double backups, and they didn't work out either... That was crazy! I have never had an experience like that here in Knysna before! We always have someone to teach, for the most part, and for a backup then a double backup to fall through is insane! So that was a bummer... and the Oldhams ended up just taking a tour of the township, and we popped in on Sister Yoliswa to say hi and then they left... Oh well... sometimes it happeneds.. 

 
. Yesterday at church we only had 7 investigators this time. But that's pretty much it for the update this week. Today we are going to the Heads (place again) with the George Elders. They have never been before and they wanted to do a joint P-Day. We were going to go to an animal sancuary or something, but It didn't end up happening... so the Heads instead...

 


Thanks for all of the support! I love you all so much! Take luck!

 

-Elder Jones

Thursday, 29 November 2012

25th Nov 2012 in the city Knysna, South Africa



THAT PICTURE WAS SO AWESOME ABOUT ANONA AND RILEY’S NEW FAMILY MEMBER!!! I'm stoked! He/She will already be 5 months old when I get home! How insane is that?..
Thanks for the support mom and dad! I really receive so much strength from both of you while I am here! Your prayers are a big support to me! They really are! Thanks for the email pictures and the update! I Love You Both!!
Riley with his last week of hunting and he's still looking eh? He better not miss the opportunity altogether! As for the situation with the Malawian's being able to be baptized, we are still awaiting the outcome.

Also, the pictures that I am sending this time are a collection of pictures of cool creepy crawlies that I have found literally right outside of the door to our flat. It seems like we have a new creepy crawly friend that sits outside our door every day, so I have taken the liberty to display these friends to everyone!


Seriously, I am boggled at how fast time flys by! This week seems like a blurr! There is so much to do but like no time to do it! This week though has been rather nice! Yesterday at church, it was the first time that I had been to a church service where when it started there were only 15 people there to sing the opening hymn. Even at the MTC there were 24 of us having church. So that was the smallest I have experienced in my life! By the end of sacrament meeting there was probably around 30 of us or so.. Filled up a bit more. We had 5 investigators at church. Not 9 like last week but it was alright.

 
The work is going very well! Had some cool experiences! One appointment with the Zimbabweans, Prancisca unloaded on us her issues with her husband and stuff, and just the day before we had studied about resolving concerns using a scripture, and we role played and in the role play we had pretty much the same situation. So we were able to use the same scriptures and it ended up being a really cool lesson. Prancisca felt better at the end! I am so grateful to have grown up in the Restored Gospel! I have such a huge responsibility in sharing it with as many people as possible!

 


I can't believe how fast this transfer is ending... I'm fairly sure I'm leaving Knysna, and I don't really want to... I love this place! And I love the people! The work is going so well! And there are a bunch of baptisms just waiting for the situation to be resolved with the permit stuff! It'll be hard to leave! But, I'll go where the Lord wants me to go! We also got to clean the chapel on Saturday. It was nice! There were 6 of us and we got it all done in an hour. But I really enjoyed it! There’s something special about cleaning a house of the Lord. I don't have enough time to type out all of the experiences that I had this week with investigators and stuff. We have 11 progressing investigators, so we are pretty busy teaching all the time!



 
It was rainging for a few days. The weather here is weird... It will be hot and sunny in the morning, then cold and windy and raining in the afternoon, then calm and sunny and hot again in the evening... Being by the ocean brings weird weather sometimes!
 

Also there is a picture of some chicken burgers I purchased. Look carefully.. Do you see what contradicts itself? I am planning on taking as many pictures as I can of things that are similar to that, because on almost every product in this country, it is the same thing! Ex. Orange Juice (contains a blend of other fruit juices) etc...

 

This might possibly be the last time that I have so much free time to Email on Mondays. Next Monday we are going to George to go see an animal sanctuary of sorts, and then after that I will be in a new area... most likely... 95% chance... It's rare to stay in an area for 7.5 months... Most likely in my new area I will have to pay for emailing and most likely I will only get to have an hour and a half, and half an hour goes to emailing president... so emails will start getting shorter including this blog! Thanks to everybody for the constant support that I receive! I know I say that every time! But I really mean it! Thanks for the letters and packages! Thanks for the prayers! They are needed! Love ya!

Elder Jones

Thursday, 22 November 2012

19th Nov 2012 in the city of Knysna, South Africa


Molweni,

 
I love getting emails from you both! Thanks so much! Don't worry about there being no pictures, I don't have any pictures this week either. Great minds think alike I suppose!

As for spiders, I don't really think we'll have a problem with the big spiders like that one, although I saw one at the gas station just down the road from us, but for the most part they are just little ones, and even then, there aren't many. One night though, I woke up and had a lump on my right bicep, and it was sore and itchy. It was not a mosquito bite nor a flea bite (i know very well what those feel like! I have some flea bites on me right now that I got 2 nights ago) the only thing I could think of was that it was a spider bite. It stayed sore and somewhat swollen for like 4 days and then eventually went away... Spiders are definitely different here then back home! they are more ferocious here (even the tiny little ones!).

Haha I wish i could have been a part of your discussion with Uncle Luke. We've had similar discussions here. It's incredible to see how the Lord works and how he is building an army of missionaries right now! There is a great work coming forth! You are right though, I am right in the middle of it! At the end of this transfer (so on Dec 5th) there will only be 28 missionaries in the mission who are older than me on mission. I will only be 1 year out on mission and that means there will be around 100 missionaries younger than me on mission. (I speak of older or younger as of months on mission not the age of the missionaries). I asked our mission president if there would be an increase of missionaries to come in our mission and he said that there will be an increase of missionaries serving here. Elder Palmer's mission is going to possibly receive an increase of 73 missionaries. Our mission won't have that large of an influx, but it could possibly go up 30-40, maybe 50 missionaries! If that be the case, then me, at 12 months or 13.5 months or even 15 months on mission will be older than 100-150 missionaries and ill still have tons of time remaining on my mission. That then means that I will be used in leadership positions, or training positions like you said, for the remaining year of my mission! That's intense! 

 I remember back home at my farewell, the words of Brother Bikman (Seminary teacher), talking to Mom (but I was standing right there) at the entrance to the kitchen, and he said that my mission president would be using me as a leader in the mission. Those words have just been ringing through my head over and over again. That is going to be a daunting task to be a leader over such a plenteous amount of young missionaries, both age wise and months on mission wise. I'm going to have a lot of responsibility, but the Lord works in marvelous ways. There's a reason why I have been called to serve at the time that I have been. Same goes for Elder Palmer. He is going to continue in his leadership, or in training, for the remainder of his mission and he is going to be a pivotal and important tool in training and leading the new missionaries in his mission! We have been called at this time strategically by the Lord for specific purposes! There's a reason why the mission force is being increased in such a profound way! The Lord is spreading His gospel, and it will cover the whole face of the Earth!

Enough mission talk... 

 I'm glad to hear that everyone is doing well. I'm also glad to hear that Dad is back at work! A 32 GB SD card sounds fabulous! I have that 32 GB flash drive that you sent a long time ago, and I almost broke it! It was sticking out of the little DVD player that we have at the flat to listen to conference talks and music and what not, and by accident I hit it and it almost snapped! I was so worried that I had lost everything! Thank goodness it still works, but I need to be careful with it, so once I get that SD card, ill backup everything to that! I'm excited for this package you are sending me! Like super excited! Christmas is going to be Lekker! You are the best! Thanks for the letter mom! I got one this week! You are right about the post though... this country is insane... how anything functions normally is just mind blowing... there is so much corruption in this country. For the most part though I seem to be getting all of my packages. There has just been one or two from Tori that I didn't end up getting (to be honest I think that the mission just sent them to the wrong Elder Jones in our mission). I love you both so much!

What a hectic week! Man I love mission! Well I'll just quick give an update on what is going down with pretty much all of our investigators... At this point in time, almost all of our investigators are from outside of South Africa. Mostly Malawians but some Zimbabweans. We were ready and prepared to baptize 2 Malawians. We had the baptism interview set for this past Saturday and everything. Well it was on Wednesday, in the morning, as I was showering the idea popped into my head, "are we allowed to baptize illegal foreigners?" I asked the Zone leaders and they asked President Wood and President said that they need to obey and honor the law in order to be baptized. Well I talked with them about it, and long story short, they received their working permits from the Home Affairs (govn't building), but the person who gave them the permit told them that it was going to be a really long expensive process to get a working permit, but if they wanted, they could give him extra money, and he would give them one right away. Well what else could they do, they couldn't wait the 5 years and alot of money to get one so they went for the bribe and got the one they have now. Does that sound like corruption or what? 

So now the people we want to baptize are ready and willing to do anything to get it all fixed and going properly, but they can't afford to do it legally and they can't afford to go back home to Malawi... so they are in a pickle. It was such an incredible experience to sit down and talk with this family and discuss the situation. It was incredible to see their faithfulness and their willingness to just drop everything that is not right and to just do that which is right instantly. They are so converted to the Gospel that everything that I say, they are instantly willing to obey. They fear God more than man and they understand the importance of living the Gospel. They are such a huge inspiration for me! I learn so much from them, and my testimony has been strengthened by their examples! They are the same family who had the issue before with the marriage policy and they were so willing to follow, that they separated from their wives in order to keep the law of chastity. We later found out that the tribal marriages in Malawi were legally accepted, and that they weren't breaking the law of chastity, but for an entire month they were willing to drop even their own wives for the sake of keeping the commandments! Absolutely incredible! 

The mission president told me to send him copies of their papers and that he is going to bring this issue up to the people in the Area Office for all of the Southern Africa, and see what they have to say about the situation. If you don't understand exactly what the whole situation is about, don't worry, there is too much for me to type out right now, so I tried to briefly summarize everything. This is a really big issue because almost all the Malawians who are working in this country, and potentially all foreigners, have had to bribe to get a permit (whether its real or fake we don't know) of some sort to be here. In order to baptize them, they need to obey and honor the law. So this is a big issue for our whole mission! Haha! I think it's funny how a situation with my investigators ended up being a mission wide, if not continental wide issue that needs to be brought up to the Area authorities in the Area office! Thanks to a revelation that I received in the shower on Wednesday!  

The bummer about the whole story is that we have to postpone everything with baptisms of foreigners until all of this is figured out. We have 2 that we were supposed to get baptized this Sunday, but it’s not going to happen... There are 4-5 more who will be prepared for baptism within the next month or so (some of these people I have been working with for over 5 months but couldn't baptize them because of English but now they've learnt it), and I won't be able to see any of them be baptized because 95% chance that I am leaving Knysna at the end of this transfer (Dec 5th)... So that's a bummer... I won't get to see the baptisms of any of the people that I've worked so hard with... That's always depressing, but it mattered not!!! It's all the same whether I see it or I don't as long as they get baptized, I did my job preparing them! Some lucky missionary is going to pop into the area right at a time when lots of people are ready to be baptized!

So that was kinda the big event that happened this week...

It was cool though, because on Friday we went to George and had a District Meeting there and President and Sister Wood were in attendance! And the best part was that I didn't have to teach or prepare District Meeting! Woot! Then President Wood took all 6 of us out for lunch at Nando's! Also another highlight this week! We had 9 investigators at church yesterday! And there were about 3 other people there that have come but we have not been able to teach them yet! so about 12 non members there at church! Cool Beans! It was really awesome to see! We had about 50 people there total at church! Which is not bad for this little branch!

  Almost all of those investigators are foreigners though... haha... we'll see what the outcome will be...

I just love mission! It is such an incredible joy to see people receive, accept, then live the Gospel! It just blows my mind how merciful and loving Heavenly Father is and how willing and ready He is to just forgive all of His children of their sins and mistakes and accept them into his open arms! I've felt it and seen it in my life! And I get to witness it in other lives! I'm so grateful to be serving at this time and I'm extremely grateful for all of the constant support that I get from friends and family! I love you all so much! Take Luck!

-Elder Jones

 

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

12th Nov 2012 Knysna, South Africa


Hello Mom and Dad

 I'm excited to meet Tristan! He looks like a goof in his pictures (the one where he's on the exercise bike) and he sounds like he's hilarious.

I was coughing up phlegm for over a week now, but I'm just getting over it! I had some tough nights trying to sleep and found myself getting only 4 hours or so of sleep a night... Let me tell you, I was tired!!! One day we drove back from George and I was sooooo tired (almost fell asleep on the road a couple times cause my companion was asleep) and once we got home we went into our flat and I went to the bathroom and I almost fell asleep on the toilet! then I told my companion that I was going to nap for 15 mins and he had to wake me up, and the next thing I remember is him shaking me like crazy saying "wake up!!!" and it was 45 mins later and he couldn't get me awake! paha! I was dead! But I'm almost back to normal now...

 Well this week was alright... I had to go give a baptism interview, it was my first one, and I had to fail the Brother because of marriage issues... That was a bummer... but truly the elders teaching him should have known about that before and had that all resolved before I come in to interview... They have something here in Africa called tribal marriage... I think I mentioned this in another blog... but all they do is pay something called Labola to the wife’s family and then they are supposed to be married... now in a few countries that is legit! If you pay Labola, you are officially, by the government, recognized as legally and lawfully married... but in some countries that marriage needs to be registered with the government before the marriage is legal. Some countries don’t allow it at all... well the man I interviewed was from Zimbabwe and he was tribally married but it wasn't registered with the government like it was supposed to be... so we can't baptize him yet... he need to be lawfully wedded... so that was a bummer... I told the Elders that they needed to know these things before I interview the person. They are just young elders though... one is 4 months and one is 6.5 months on mission.

 Anywho... We had a branch talent show on Friday, and pretty much everyone in the branch came and shared a talent! It was awesome!
 My companion and I did stuff too... We actually did alot of stuff! Haha!
Our talent was called "What Talent Don't We Have!?"   My companion and I did a bunch of stuff like singing and dancing and riddles and jokes and magic tricks and a rap and whistling and reciting a poem and throwing candy and I'd catch it in my mouth, and preaching the gospel and ya... a bunch of stuff!... was fun.
 
I have some pictures attached and they need a little explanation... There are two there of a spider... It is the same picture only one is zoomed in on closer.

 
 That is what they call here, a "baboon spider." I saw it as we were fetching some wood from the forest for some members. I took the picture from the car but that is the biggest spider I have seen so far while here in Africa. To give you an idea of how big it is, if I were to take that and put it into my hand, it would be about the size of my palm! You can even see it’s huge fangs seemingly drag across the ground as it walks! Now that is a scary spider! And it's super fast! Good thing I was in the car or else I might have ran after it and tried to catch it!

 
The other picture is of the opening of the Lagoon to the Ocean and there is this cool fog that is just sitting there, and it sat there for like 2 days! It might still be there to be honest! But it just sits there out by the Heads (name of a location) and it looks cool! The picture is taken from our flat.

The weather is getting amazing though! The sun is out like every day and its getting hot! I love it! Summa time! Woot! Even though the winter here is like a 6 month long spring haha! I'm excited to get a tan! We'll see how good my watch tan gets this year! I’ll keep you updated on that!  

 
The work is going great and there is progress happening! It's wonderful to see how much people are willing to sacrifice for what they know is true! It’s also really frustrating sometimes to work so hard with someone, and then see them falter, but I never lose hope! The Gospel must move forward!

Thank you Aunt Terri for sending that package! The way you wrapped up those cookies was superb! They are like I'm eating them fresh from the oven! Not crumbled at all! I'm actually eating them right now as I email!

 NICOLE I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY… Please can someone share this message with her just to make sure she read it... I really think I have the wrong address for you... I don't think you have ever once gotten a letter from me have you? I'm going to send it to your parent’s house this time and maybe they can give it to you. If possible could I get the right address? That'd be great! I hope you aren't angry that you haven't gotten a letter from me, haha! I was kinda sad I wasn't getting any letters from you, but then I realized that you probably weren't getting my letters! Jammer! Xolo! Sorry!

And for Whitney, patience! Its coming I promise! And Holly and Matt J. it's coming I promise! And for anyone else that haven't received a reply for a while, patience, its coming! I sent out 6 letters last week and I have more to do this week so I'm working on it! And letters keep coming in too! Paha! I love it!

Thank you everyone for all of the incredible and constant support I get from you! I am seriously so blessed! Enjoy the Snow! Take luck!

 
-Elder Jones

Monday, 5 November 2012

5th Nov 2012 Knysna, South Africa


Hi Mom and Dad

And it was nice to get all those pictures! I had almost forgotten what our kitchen looked like! paha! I think it’s also crazy how the majority of people here... like 80% wash their clothes by hands! It's not that I think that it's crazy... but it takes so much time and effort! eesh! I'll keep my 40 minute long washer load that costs $1.25 (R10)

By the way! Congrats on your exam results and final mark mom! "Honors" Good on ya! And you always wondered how your children were so smart!
 
About the shacks... by the way, that B&B is a nicer looking shack! Usually they look alot more run down than that... No, shacks do not have bathrooms in them... usually they will just have an outhouse out back and whenever it gets full they just dig another hole in their yard and then fill it with fecies, then cover it up with dirt, then keep using the outhouse... I khayelitsha the government was building public outhouses for everyone and they flushed, but here the shacks just make their own... once the government builds them a house, then they get a working bathroom inside the house.

 The dirt here is closer to clay then to dirt... It was really weird when I first experienced it. It was raining really hard and I was dreading having to walk up to the houses we were teaching at, but when I step on the dirt, its still solid! it's weird... some kinds of dirt here get muddy, but the majority of the earth is like clay.


The way packages work is usually if the value is over $40 or 3kg the customs tag an extra fee onto it. It's not too much, like $5 or something, but then they just instantly take that from my mission fund that I get bi-monthly for groceries. But it's no big deal really. Well my time is running out so I better tell you of my week... and I still need to do reports...

This week had it's ups and downs... We had an entire day where every appointment dropped, and everyone else we could visit weren't home and so we resorted to tracting and all of the people we tracted into were single mothers... Now let me just briefly explain... because lots of you are probably like, "Does it matter who it is? why are you sad about just tracting into single mothers? Isn't the gospel for everyone?!?!" and I will try to explain... Here in South Africa (especially in the townships, not so much in town with white people) you can literally walk up to any door, knock on it, and they will let you in and share a message right then and there and they will stop everything that they are doing to listen to you. The problem with that is that it is then very easy to find alot of new investigators, but if you only find females, then it poses a few problems.

1st problem is that whenever we baptize a single mother it puts added responsibility on the priesthood of the branch members. Not to mention this is just a small little branch with very few priesthood, so we need to do all we can to build up the branch and make it stronger so that it can grow! I emphasize "grow" because sure it’s one thing to get more and more members, but they need to be fully converted and come out to church. It’s not a numbers game. The way to get "Real Growth" is by baptizing Father-led families or potential priesthood holders who will support and work towards the goal to attend the temple.

2nd problem is that if we are teaching single mothers or single sisters, we need to have a fellow shipper (another member to go with us to appointments).. now what happeneds when we can't get a fellow shipper to come with us to visit them? Well, then we can't teach them and... so then progressing them is very difficult, and yields little results...

Now the majority of people here are single mothers because the men just sleep around with whoever they can and then just run away. There is something called "Labola" here which means that in order to marry a girl, you have to first pay labola (whatever price the parents feel that their daughter should be worth). So men, not being able to afford labola, instead of marrying, just make them their girlfriend, then get them pregnant, then they don't want the responsibility, so they just leave and find another girlfriend.... it’s sad, but super common! So now single mothers plague the land! I want to just share the gospel with all of them! I really do! So after a day of tracting into single mothers and having  appointments drop and not teaching one lesson, a missionary can get to be feeling pretty beat...

But we did have a successful first part of the week with full days of lessons! Also really good news! Goodman and Dorothy have a baptism date for the 25th!!! And they are progressing very nicely and I am very excited for them to be baptized! If everything goes like planned, then we can probably even baptize Betty at the same time! (Dorothy is Julius' wife. Julius was baptized a couple months ago. Goodman is their cousin who is staying with them, and Betty is Eric's wife, who I baptized) If we can get them all baptized on the same day, that would just be incredible!!!! That would make me so happy helping complete the family! I've been working so hard with these people for the past 5 months! And better yet if I could get their other cousin Leah to start coming to church again, we could baptize her at the same time too because she has been taught everything already twice! That will be awesome!

There are good things happening here and I love this work more than I can explain! It just brings so much joy to my soul and I can't imagine feeling any other way for the rest of my life! Mission is the greatest thing I could have ever decided to do and I can't image what my life would have possibly turned into if I hadn't have come on mission. But my eyes have been opened in so many ways and I can see clearly these days!

 I still have a TON!!!!!! of stuff to learn and experience, and I can hardly imagine my eyes getting any more open than they are! My eyes might pop out! Thank you all for all your support! I received a resounding 6 letters last week! That was awesome! And I am almost caught up with responding to all my letters! So have patience! I'm mailing a bunch out today! I love you all! Take care!

 

-Elder Jones