Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4. 2013

So this is my last week in Lenyenye. Actually, Thursday is my last day there. Friday afternoon Elder Dalton and I will begin the long drive to Johannesburg where we will spend the night with President and Sister Omer in the mission home. Saturday morning we, and the rest of the departing missionaries, will be going to the Johannesburg temple for the last time right before I have my final interview with President Omer. We'll then go to church somewhere around there and do some final things that Monday before I see Dad and Grandpa. It's strange that I have finally come to this point.
This week was good, but long. The highlight was being able to hear Elder and Sister Bednar speak to our mission. It was really cool. He taught us about learning by faith, and as missionaries, how we can best help others to learn by faith. Which basically means to learn by acting, and not just by being acted upon. It was really cool. When I get home I'll have to tell you all about it.
We also were able to watch the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference which was pretty awesome. I'm not going to be able to see the rest of conference until I get home though.
We also had two baptisms, Ben and Ryan, this week which was really cool. They're both really cool people and we have high hopes for the both of them.
This week is going to go by fast. We still have a bunch of teaching appointments to get to this week. I feel bad for Elder Dalton. I've never been the final companion to a departing missionary, but I can imagine that it makes you long for home.
I love and miss you all. I can't wait to see you all in less than two weeks now.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28. 2013

Well, I only have two weeks left of proselyting, and less than three weeks until I get to see all of you again. I can't believe the time has come.
This past week was a good one. We taught a few families that came to church and our lessons with them were awesome. They asked all the right questions, and understood all the right things at the right times. Probably some of the best lessons Elder Dalton and I have taught together. One of the families is a new one that we've recently begun teaching, Adeus and Chipo. They're from Zimbabwe and are super cool. He's a project manager for a construction company, and she's a social worker, and some of the nicest people I've ever met. After teaching them about the restoration, we invited them to church. They seemed hesitant, so we just promised them blessings if they came and didn't try to convince them. After the lesson, Elder Dalton and I asked Heavenly Father to help them come to church, and to our surprise they actually showed up and a bunch of people from the branch made them feel really welcome.
Yesterday we finally had the chance to begin watching conference. We only watched the Saturday morning session though. I'm not going to be able to watch all of it before I come home which is kind of lame. I'm excited to be able to listen to the rest of it. Elder Hales talk made me feel like the world is coming to an end soon though. The way Elder Bednar exhorted us not to procrastinate the day of our repentance also made me feel that way. I think they're aware of something that we're not.
Elder Dube, who spoke, is from Zimbabwe and I think his talk was one of the favorites among the branch members here. He even baptized one of the sisters in our branch on his mission. Also, Elder Soares or however you spell it, was a seventy assigned to Johannesburg before he was called to the Presidency of the Seventy, and I met him when I met Elder Holland last year. It was cool to hear him talk, especially since I'm pretty sure that I met the Brother Mohlangu he was talking about when I was serving in Soweto which is kind of cool. Even, I believe that I taught his son once who had been less active for years before returning to activity. Crazy right?
Anyway, Elder Bednar is coming to my mission this week on Thursday, but I won't be able to meet him because our zone is too far away. President Omer felt bad that only our zone, out of the 16 or so in the mission, doesn't get to go, so he's having the mission do a nice lunch for us that day which will be cool.
We'll be having a couple of baptism's next week Sunday. Ben and Ryan. We're looking forward to it.
I love and miss you all. Have an awesome week.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14. 2013

This week has been a fairly normal one, beside the fact that we were fed by members twice in one week, which never happens. That was pretty awesome, except that one of them was actually really not that good, but the lady that made it is probably one of the sweetest ladies that I've met so it was ok.
I only have 29 days left as a missionary. It's almost done, but it doesn't quite feel real yet. The days remain the same. Same people, same challenges, same excuses, same schedule. I don't know why I imagined anything would change. It's strange to almost be done. You spend your whole life hearing people speaking about missions served and not really knowing what it is like, and then all of a sudden you're looking back at the end of your service thinking "wow, that's what it was!" It's an odd sensation.
Our work this week was ok. We had a decent turn out at church which is always cool, we're just trying to figure out what to do with a lot of these people we're working with who are just going through the motions and not really progressing. 
That's about it for this week. I love you all and can't wait to see you again soon.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, October 7, 2013

October 7. 2013

This week has been an interesting one. My district leader, Elder Ouma, who lives with us is training this transfer and his trainee is from some obscure village in Uganda, so he doesn't know how to do a lot of the things that we take for granted. He said that he could drive, but after a very short lived driving session we came to learn that he had actually purchased his driver's license on the side of the road or something. So now neither he or his companion drive so Elder Dalton use the car every day which is cool, but the downside is that we have to drop them off and pick them up every day and take them everywhere they need to go. Which is kind of lame. He also started a small fire in the house this week by accident while using the stove. The house still smells. He's a good guy though, and we like him a lot. His name is Elder Mayende.
Yesterday at church we had an awesome turnout of investigators and less active members, and only a part of them showed up. I can't even imagine what it would be like if everyone that we were working with came to church on the same sunday. The endire chapel would be full to the brim. It would be crazy.
It's strange to think that in just six weeks from yesterday I will be arriving in Salt Lake City. It's a strange feeling. It still feels like it's not really going to happen. I'm sure that my attitude toward being a missionary full time will change somewhat once I'm not one, and I'll long to come back. But as for right now, I'm just excited to see everyone at home again. 
I love and miss you all.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30. 2013

Today is officially the last day of this transfer and the beginning of my final transfer as a missionary. I'm not quite sure how I feel about the whole situation. I'm definitely staying in Lenyenye with Elder Dalton to the end which is cool. I don't have to worry about getting a rough companion to finish up with. Some good news is that Elder Msangi is leaving! Hooray. I've never met a harder person to live with and I've lived with him for the last four and a half months. His companion, Elder Ouma, is going to be training for my last transfer so there will be a greenie in the flat. Won't that be fun for him to see someone going home right as he's starting out. I wonder how he'll feel about all of that.
We had our interviews with President Omer this week. It was pretty cool. It was strange to think that it's my last one before my departing interview. He's an awesome guy and I hope that I'm like him someday.
Also Elder Bednar is coming to my mission at the end of this month, but I don't know if we'll be able to go because of some stupid church policy that says that only missionaries that are within two hours drive can attend and we are five hours drive. President Omer has appealed to the area presidency, however, because there are only 18 of us out this far, and the other 150 missionaries would be able to see him. So it's not really fair. I hope we get to go.
This Sunday was incredibly awkward. We had the standard three hour block and a baptismal service afterward. At the baptism though, we found out that the font had been slowly draining until the moment before the baptism so it was below knee depth. The first girl that was baptized went fine except that it looked pretty awkward that she had to go down so far. The second girl however had to be baptized 3 times, because the first time Elder Ouma not only said her name in the wrong order for some reason, but the girl's baptismal outfit filled up with air and didn't go all the way under the water. The second time he said the name correctly but the baptismal clothing still wouldn't go under the water, so the third time we had to have her sit down in the water, and lay down to be baptized. It was incredibly awkward. I can only imagine how she felt. Then as the baptismal program was ending and everyone was filing out of the chapel, the family history representative for the branch stood up and ordered everyone to sit back down so he could talk about how they should be doing family history. My companion turned to me and asked "Does he have authority to do this?" I doubt that he did, but this is Africa, and in six weeks I don't have to see that ever happen again. It's hard to describe in an email, but it was quite an awkward sight.
Our attendance at church was alright though, even though it was raining pretty hard. The rain was a welcome substitute for the scorching heat though, which has been making everyone pretty miserable. It was over 100 degrees plus humidity the past few days. I've never sweat so much from just standing in my life. It's going to be weird to go home to snow from the blistering heat. I don't know how I'll be able to adjust.
Anyway, I love and miss you all and will see you all sooner than you know. I hope you're prepared.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, September 23, 2013

September 23. 2013

Another week has passed. I now only have seven more weeks as a missionary. How crazy is that? Then Dad and Grandpa will be here to pick me up. I found out this week that I'll most likely be home on the evening of 17 November. I'm so excited to see everyone. I heard that Josh Miller came home a few weeks ago and that means that I'm the next one.
This week has been strange. We began teaching some new people who seem promising. At least if we can get them over the whole "any church is OK, as long as you pray God," and yes they say it like that.
A lot of the regulars that we meet with ditched us quite a bit this week, and my companion and I both have had just a general feeling of discouragement about the work lately. But we're still moving on. We have interviews with President Omer this week on Wednesday, and that should help I think. I always feel much better about my life after speaking with him. And hopefully I'll be able to find out from him if this will be my final area of if I'll be transferred one last time. It's kind of up in the air right now. Hopefully he'll let me in on what the Lord has planned for me a little bit early.This transfer ends October 1. So we'll see what happens.
I love and miss you all.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, September 16, 2013

September 16.2013

This week has been relatively slow, just like the last one. The only eventful thing that has happened is that our water was shut off by the city, because apparently we are 6000 rand past due on our payments. But they have been paid, they're just claiming that they haven't. But it's OK, we found a way to beat the system, we've just been showering at and taking water from the gym within our neighborhood. 
Also, there is this little girl named Tebogo, who is the daughter of one of our investigators, who during one of our lessons found a bottle of snake poison and managed to drink it. She started to have an allergic reaction and the lips and tongue began to swell and she was vomiting so we gave her a priesthood blessing and rushed her to the hospital because they didn't have a car and it was already late at night. She is alright now. Good as new, but she had to spend the night in the hospital for observation. Bad girl. Actually, that happened last week, I had just forgotten to write about it.
That's about it. I love and miss you all.
Elder Balmforth