Monday, November 24, 2014

Epistle to the saints of Colorado

Hello again friends and family, hope all is well in the states and that the holidays will be nice and chilly. It is pretty weird knowing its november but I step outside and I start to sweat. Some days it gets fairly hot but considering I'm in Africa the temperatures here are pretty mild. Given that, it generally rains about 4 or 5 days a week consistently in the afternoons, and when it rains it gets pretty cold I guess. I can still roll in my short sleeves because it feels great for me, although everyone else calls me crazy. 

The work here in the Stanger area and branch is going. It may be going very slow but going nonetheless. This week has been a week full of people not being where they say they will be, which gets frustrating very fast. Here in South Africa most people are very nice and when we knock on their doors and they say they believe in Jesus Christ so they would be ok with us coming back. When we come back at that scheduled time they wont be there about 90% of the occasions. Also most of the workers here work 7 day weeks and work late sometimes so we end up not seeing much of them. The people we did see this week were among the Tembos, Ezron, and the Mtiyanis. 

The Tembos I might have described in a previous account, but they are basically the most faithful of anyone even in our branch, and they aren't baptized yet. They are waiting on a traditional marriage vs modern marriage dispute that should be settled soon. The dispute is as to whether or not traditional marriage counts and if it doesn't, the arrangements that need to be made to get them married. Like I said before, they are able to push through this challenge with enormous amounts of faith, faith I wish I could have had at certain points in my life, and the faith I pray to have every night. The husband even went to stake conference with us where Elders Uchtdorf and Bednar addressed the Southeast Africa area from Salt Lake. He really seemed to enjoy it and is now looking forward to baptism and entering into the path even more.

Ezron is a 22 year old kid who reads in the bible on his own but lately has been reluctant to read in the Book of Mormon. He told us one day that he prayed about joining the church but said that God had a different plan for him. The other day when teaching him and his sisters family about Baptism and the Doctrine of Christ, he looked at us and said I have been awakened and when he prayed he prayed to know if baptism is right for him. If he is able to make that decision he will be a great member who might even serve a mission.

The Mtiyanis consist of Tembi who is this woman who lives with her brother Abraham and his wife. The three of them are very devout in their christian beliefs and we often have very involved and interesting lessons and conversations with them. Most of them were able to attend stake conference as well and they seemed to really enjoy it as well. Also could be a very strong family of converts.

As for me, I'm finally getting into the swing of things. Teaching is almost second nature now and my companion doesn't have to nudge me every time it's my turn to speak. I dont think I've ever prayed as much as I am right now, in fact, the amount of times Ive prayed in this month alone probably compares to the last several years. Ive also never prayed so hard for people before. These people that Im teaching make their way into my prayers and I think about them every day all the time. That has been making this mission fly by. The month is almost up, the transfer is almost up, and it feels like I just got here yesterday.

Last week for - day we saw a dolphin show, so enjoy;)

Here are a few more questions posed to Zach for our information.

1. How has it been driving on the opposite side of the road? Have you gotten used to it yet?

Ive totally gotten used to it, I feel like when I come back the first thing ill do is hop onto zuni going the wrong way. Driving is crazy also because people walk in the streets alot and when its pitch black outside and im speeding I have to sometimes swerve to not hit people so drunk they dont know where they are. Just kidding about speeding I only do that during the day. They also have a tracker on our car so if we go over 120, (which is about 75 Mph ) or if we brake fast, accelerate fast, we get a call from the Senior Couple in charge of the cars. 

2. Are you living in an apartment or with members? Please describe your living conditions.  Is that the case missionwide?

We live in our own apartment and im pretty sure that it is mission wide. It gets so disgusting sometimes, and our fridge leaks when they cut the power or when I accidently move the dial in the fridge. Dont ask. I cant remember if I already told you, but when I sleep I have to lather on mosquito repellent and sleep with a fan. Otherwise, I wake up and it looks like I have leprosy. (because of the mosquito bites). Its happened twice already.

3. What kind of food are you cooking for yourselves?  Do you eat with members often?

I cook an omelet most mornings with cheese, salary, tomatoes, and ham. Salary spelled purposely fiscally. And if not omelet I scramble 4 eggs or sunny side up them and eat them with two slices of toasted wheat bread. For lunch and dinner I have peanut butter and jam and cheese and meats. We generally get a Dinner appointment but when we dont I make a really big sandwhich with meat cheese lettuce mustard and tomatoes. My grocery bill was like 250 rands :) and that will probably last me another week.

4. What kind of fare will you get for Thanksgiving?  Do they have that holiday there or something like it or is it just another summer week?

I dont think there is anything going on. I'm pretty sure South Africa doesnt celebrate the American pioneers slaughtering the descendants of the lamanites in America. Pretty sure it's just another summer week.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Question and Answer Series

This week, I gave Zach a series of questions to see if we could garner more information than normal.  Here are the questions as well as his answers.

1)  Tell us about your companion.  Name would be a good start, etc.
My companion is elder Mphaka pronounced like 'imphaka'. They have a lot of names that start with an M or N its weird. He is from Limpopo which is around Jo-burg and was serving in Seira Leone until Ebola and they shipped all the missionaries to serve in their home countries. His first area here has been Stanger. 

2)  Are there more missionaries in Stanger than the two of you?

Just the two of us

3) What was the flight like to the mission?

The flight was pretty sweet. We had to go to this giant building with lots of people all trying to shine my shoes. We had to go over this weird bridge thing and it brought us to this big cyndrilical thingy that has rows of seats. I didnt know how this thing would get us to durban, but I trusted it. Anyway we sat down in weird chairs that have tables that fold down in front of you!!! in these rows there were like TV screens on the side and if you looked at them they showed you some sweet landscapes or clouds, very soothing. Anyway we sat in these seats for like an hour and then poof we walked out of it and we were in durban. I have no idea what happened and why you would call it a "flight"

4)  How was the mission home and your Mission President?

Great. Also great.

5)  I did enjoy the photos you sent.  It would be grand if you could give some descriptions, otherwise all we see is you and a lot of lizards. Was that a zoo you went to? Did you get to ride a crocodile?

On our first P-day, we went to this place called Crocidile Creek and that guy on the crocodile was our tour guide. He told us all kinds of facts about them and we got to hold one and then we got to hold that snake, and then he gave us a little sample of crocidile meat. Super good.

On a serious note, we are teaching a couple who are Bright Tembo and Octavia Tembo. They are progressing fantastically, but they cant be baptized yet because of marraige issues. They were married traditionally in Zimbabwe but their marraige isnt considered valid by south africa. The church does recognize certain traditional marraiges, especially if the Dowry or Lobola has been paid. In the Tembos situation, Lobola wasnt paid but the two families agreed on the arrangement. Anyway, our branch president is very stubborn because hes indian and he says they need to be married so we have to wait for that to happen. Bright is starting to get uneasy with this whole "the church only wants certain people" and most of the members who they deal with for the marraige situation are quite rude and its been a challenge to keep them close to the gospel. 

Anyway thats really the only promising investigators, and the rest of the week has been pretty average. 

I'm tuning this really old piano in the church so that we can wheel it in to the chapel and finally have some quality music.

Later today we are seeing a dolphin show for P-day with some other missionaries in the Durban zone. I didnt take any pictures this last week but ill be sure to take some today. 

Swag. It does rain here a lot but when everyone else is freaking out because its "freezing" I'll roll around in a short sleeved shirt and be fine.

Hope all is well in the states, 

Love Elder Preator

Monday, November 10, 2014

Settled in Stanger

Hello everyone!  

Things in South Africa are pretty sweet now that Ive settled in. I think in my last letter I failed to describe the kind of town we're in. I mentioned that its like the ghetto of detroit. That only describes the immediate town. The surrounding residential areas are whats called townships. It originated from when the British were here and blacks were seen as a lesser population. The whites lived in the cities or towns and the zulu or blacks lived only in the outer city. The outer city residential area is called a township. In these townships, homes can be a regular home around the size of our first floor (so like a living room, kitchen, and bedrooms) and then the homes range down to a cement cubicle with a tin roof about 6 feet by 6 feet. Some of these homes have electricity for a light and most of the people we see cram a refrigerator, TV, bed, and one even had all that and a washer and dryer. 

One of the members who comes with us often to go tracting and to our appts. is Vincent. He lives with his brother and sister and is going to college. He is the hardest working person ive ever seen and his testimony is if mine is a rock, his is a boulder. He lives in a cement house with a tin roof but his is about 12 by 6. His sister has a baby and every time we have gone over the baby is crying. Anyway he has no job and still manages to come out with us all the time. Sometimes our Dinner Appointments are the only food he gets and people in the branch sometimes buy him the essentials. Despite all this he still walks for about 45 minutes to get to church and comes out with us and puts his whole heart into the work, and hes a pretty great guy. Its amazing to see his humility and diligence. And its humbling for me to see it too.

Other than Vincent, this week we taught many restoration lessons and my comp is making me be the one to extend the baptismal invitation. Sometimes its super awkward but now Ive gotten used to it and the investigators will usually say yes. Now if they'll follow through on that, who knows. We also went door to door the other day in this neighborhood that takes like 20 minutes by car to get to. After a couple of unwavering Hindus and some not promising contacts, we came to this guy who was definitely ready for us to meet him. We told him who we are and what we do and he was eager and enthusiastic for us to come back and teach him. My comp joked saying looks like we found the new branch president. Anyway, we know that the only reason we went to that neighborhood was to find that guy. I even said we should go back because we're late for dinner but we decided to knock one more house and it was this guy. The Lord sent us there to knock and get rejected only to find that guy. He works in mysterious ways. 

Alright things are great, comp is great, branch is great, and the baptism I did was great! Hope all is great at home!  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Driving in Kwadukuza AND Dr. Pepper!

So first of all, I'm driving! Second of all, DR Pepper! With those two things I think I'll be fine. 

I'm in this little town called Stanger by the British Colonization, and renamed Kwadukuza by the Zulu population, and to describe it to you would be like describing the ghetto in Detroit. Despite that, everyone for the most part is pretty nice. Just the other day on the way to Durban (which is an hours drive), we were totally lost and we asked some random guy on the road for directions and he led us there with pretty good instructions. 

Anyway, my companion is from around Jo-burg and was serving in Sierra Leone and was transfered to the Durban mission because of Ebola. He's been on his mission a year but he's only been in Durban specifically Stanger for two transfers (which is three months). Given that, he knows quite a bit of Zulu and talks to people with it all the time. I started doing the same but not as confident. that brings up another point. everyone we speak to is black or really dark indian. Soooo basically I've been able to count the white people I've seen so far this week on one hand. The patriarch for the stake is in this branch and him and his wife are white, there is another lady in our branch that is white, and the dad of one of our investigators is white. Everyone else in our gigantic area is black. 

I've had some curry already and I really like it. One of the indian couples in our branch made us some chicken curry with potatoes. Instead of utensils, they provided tortiallas which we took and used as gloves kinda, and then we used them to soak up the rest of the juice. The other interesting food we had was pumpkin at the patriarch's house. They put lots of sugar on it and we ate it with rice and beef stew and steamed vegetables. I dont know what else to talk about, we get two hours to email but even that goes by fast. I guess the only news on our investigators is that my comp doesnt want to baptize the one he's been teaching and so I'm baptizing him, on sunday. 

Alright Cheers!