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!