Monday, March 26, 2012

March 26. 2012

Hello Everyone,
Well this week was really uneventful. Not much at all really happened. There were a few good and a lot of really hard times.
We had a lot of appointments scheduled for this week, but as it goes, most of them cancelled. When people cancel or don't show up for appointments, its not only discouraging that we didn't get to teach that person, but it means that we have to go tracting or street contacting which is basically useless. It's a time filler that only works a tiny fraction of the time that we do it. We've been trying to work throught the branch, but no one really has friends or neighbors to refer us to because all of the fences, spikes and dogs prevent people from interacting with eachother. There are people here who have lived in their homes for years and have never met their neighbors. It's kind of strange. I can't imagine not being curious about who my next door neighbor is. The people here in this area are very reclusive.
There were a couple of good things that happened though. We ended up trading literature with a Jehova's Whitness yesterday and the book he gave us is called "What does the Bible really teach?" We've been reading it here and there and it is completely rediculous. It really feels like a child wrote it. It's funny because a lot of the doctrines taught in the book contradict eachother. If you ever get a chance to pick one up and read it, do it. It's really funny actually.
We also met a few very prepared investigators. The first's name is Tom Celleirs, and he's a methodist, but he's one of the nicest guys I've ever met. I had only met him once and he invited us over for a Braai, which is basically a traditional South African barbeque. We gave him a pamphlet on the Restoration, and he ended up looking up on the internet information about Joseph Smith and the church, which usually would be a bad thing, but he seems to be good at picking out the rediculous claims made by antis. We gave him a Book of Mormon at our last visit and he said that he was really excited to read it.
The second set of investigators are a couple of sisters who actually contacted the President Omer to get more information about the church. It was crazy how prepared they were to hear our message. The main one who is interested is the older sister named Thandi. She had a few concerns from her own research, but nothing that Elder Dalton and I were not able to explain. I can totally imagine these sisters already being baptized. It was probably one of the highlights of my week.
That's about all that happend this week though. Nothing interesting at all happened beside the things I've already mentioned.
I love you all and hope you have an awesome week. I know that the Lord blesses me in all of my efforts to follow him, and I know that it is the same for all of his children.
Thank you for everything.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, March 19, 2012

March 19. 2012

Hello everyone,
This week has been hectic. We've been biking so much, I'm pretty sure that I could compete with Lance Armstrong now. All of our contacts and appointments have been at the almost the very bottom of our area, so every night we get to look forward to a ridiculously long uphill bike ride in the dark, and a lot of the time in the rain.
The week has been good though. We've set up more appointments and met with more people than I have in any other week that I've been here I think. The sad part is that most of the appointments cancel. I think that most of the people don't think we're serious, and never actually expect us to come back. It's been good though. We've met some way cool kids between the ages of 16 and 22 who look to be very promising investigators. They didn't come to church like they said they would, but I'm trying to remain hopeful.
It's been fun though. I feel like we're accomplishing a lot more with Elder Dalton here than we ever really have before.
Besides that not much has really happened. On P-day we went to a wildlife reserve near by and saw some zebras, wildebeests and a bunch of other animals that I have no idea what they're called. We saw a baboon but it was really far away. It was the kind of game park that you drive through and none of the cool animals were close enough to get good pictures of, so some of the other elders and I got out of the car to try and get closer and we almost got stampeded by some zebras. It was crazy. Don't worry, none of the animals in the park were the predator type.. I think. There may have been a lot more animals there but the grass was super tall and it was hard to see a lot of the time. We took some cool pictures in the grass though.
Oh yeah, I forgot that last night a pastor lady asked us if we were devil worshipers. It was strange. I pointed out to her that on our name tag, in plain sight it states that we're from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So no, we do not worship the devil. She then proceeded to ask us if we've been baptized of water and the spirit to which we answered yes. She then asked because we had been baptized by the spirit if we could speak in tongues. I'm really getting tired of people thinking that when you feel the spirit that you start to speak gibberish. If anyone knows of a good scripture that clarifies a little bit what we believe speaking in tongues to be, I'd appreciate it if you could let me know where it is. It was kind of funny though. It was funny that she was a woman pastor in these weird robes. I wanted to show her 1 Corinthians 14 about women in the church. In the end it probably would've been a bad idea though.
I'm sorry that I don't have a lot of time to respond individually this week like I normally do. I hope that you all understand and know that I love you, and that my love for you all continues to grow every day as I learn more about our Heavenly Father's plan for us. I hope that you are all continually striving to become better every day. I really can testify of the wonderful change and blessings that come from living the gospel. Our Heavenly Father really does answer our prayers, we just have to recognize the answers and remember that the answers aren't usually in some magical way, but through the people we see and interact with. I love you all.
-Elder Balmforth

Also to the Clinger family. I got your letters last week but forgot to tell you that I received them. I loved them, thank you so much.

Me and the missionaries at the game park

Elder Fraga at the game park (he is in my mtc group, and

is the tall skinny guy from the airport when I left home)

I just though this pic was cool

Me at the game park

This is the Vodocom tower which was taken over by
squatters and is apparently a super dangerous place inside.
Look up the story, it's pretty interesting.

LDS Elder Dalton & Elder Balmforth

LDS Church with Fence

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 12. 2012

Howzit Family,
This week was a good one. Better than a lot of the weeks than I've had here. I've been feeling a lot better, and there was some funny crazy stuff that happened. As well as we picked up several very promising investigators.
First, this week we had transfer meeting and I got a new companion. His name is Elder Dalton. He's from Wyoming/California, and he's been out 6 months, the same amount of time that Elder Blake has been here. Elder Blake is in a place called Phokeng, which is a township I think. But at least he has a car now. I like Elder Dalton a lot so far. He's very optimistic, which is not like myself at all but I think it's a good thing. It would be refreshing though to have a companion like myself someday. And since he's been here we've picked up several new investigators, and potential investigators. I think the area just needed a change.
The first new investigators we picked up this week are a family named Van Dyk. They're a young Afrikaans family, and they welcomed us into their home very quickly, and seemed to understand everything that we've taught them thus far. The only potential problem is that they seem very hesitant about the Book of Mormon. It's strange, because they agreed with us that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Yet, they seem to think that the Bible is all that there can be, and all that we need which doesn't make sense at all. People, especially Afrikaans people don't think rationally.
We also found the Masha family, but only the son, Mike, and his friend Keith seem to be interested. They both came to church on Sunday, and the branch did an awesome job of fellowshiping them and making them feel welcome. During all of the lessons they participated and were asking very inspired questions. I think the spirit was definitely there. They're coming to Mutual on Thursday, and should also be coming to church again next week and bringing friends with them. We have another appointment on Wednesday with them, pray that it goes well.
We also met several very promising potential investigators as well. We've been biking a ton though to get to all of these people and I've been beat all week. Especially because we had to get up way early to go to the temple on Friday. It was awesome, but I was battling to stay awake a lot of the time.
This week we met a guy named Phillip. And I don't think that we're ever going back to see him again. At least I hope not. He looked normal enough and had a nice normal family, but when he invited us in, it got very strange very quickly. As we spoke with him he started comparing himself to Moses. At one point he asked his wife and children to leave the room and close the door, he then stood up, arms outstretched, prayed, and began singing to us in, get ready for this.. wait for it.. "Tounges." It was one of the most rediculous things that I've ever seen. This guy was so full of crap, but he was completely serious. Elder Dalton and I just looked at each other like "is this really happening right now?" My camera was in my pocket, and I was tempted to pull it out and take a video of him, but he was crazy and I didn't want him to flip out if he opened his eyes and saw what I was doing. It was pretty hilarious though. It was way hard not to bust out laughing.
That was probably the funniest thing that happened this week. I also had the opportunity to confirm Yvonne a member of the church on Sunday which was pretty nerve racking. I felt like I did a horrible job at it, but she loved it apparently and said that she felt something very strongly even through my stuttering voice, which is amazing.
We also found and went to a Rodezio grill as a district one night which was fun.
Sorry I don't have anything more spiritual to talk about to you all. I'm in the war chapters in Alma right now, and as hard as I try to get spiritual things out of it to apply to our lives, it's pretty slow going.
I love you all though, and I promise you all that as you try to do better and better at all of the things that we're supposed to like reading and praying day to day, you will see huge changes in your life and in your capacity to love other people. I know that I've seen the very same changes in my own life since I've been here. It's hard to describe the taste of the apple until you take a bite of it yourself.
I love you all and wish you all a great week.
Elder Balmforth

This is also very much what Africa is like all over the place
(it's actually really good. Sketchy vendor, but good food)

This is Africa

Chicken feet
(I only ate one, it's like having a bony baby hand in your mouth)

Awesome window I found

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pictures Sent...

Elder Balmforth & Elder Blake

Elder Balmforth, Marcus & Elder Blake

South Africa Johannesburg LDS Temple

Elder Madsen & Elder Balmforth

Elder Blake & Elder Balmforth putting together a puzzle


Monday, March 5, 2012

March 5. 2112 Another Week Gone

Hello Again,
This week was much better than the last, and much more fun too.
On Tuesday we found a township in our area and biked there to do some
contacting. I don't know how well any of our contacts will turn out,
but at least it was a fun change from the normal day to day we usually
have here in Alberton. We ate Kota which is basically a hollowed out
loaf of bread filled with russian and vienna sausage, chips (fries),
palony and cheese. It was awesome, but you can only get it in the
townships because white people really don't eat it. It was awesome
though, and cheap. We also were able to actually knock on peoples
doors and teach lessons right after meeting someone. That never
happens in our area. It felt nice to talk to humble people. The longer
I'm here, the more I hate white people. It's a good thing I'm only
half white, or I'd hate myself i think. The township's name is
Thinasonke, and it was way fun. I raced this kid on my bike, while he
was running and I swear he could have been in the Olympics. He was
keeping up with me and I was actually going way fast and trying not to
lose. It was crazy. The townships are the coolest part of this place
except for the smell. They're just full of sewage, and rotting animal
flesh that people just dump on the sides of the street. I'd send
pictures, but the computer I'm on, I'm pretty sure is infected with
some crazy virus and I don't want to ruin another camera so I'll send
them at a later time.
We taught the Wiesners (the afrikaans couple) again this week so that
Elder Blake could say goodbye to them. They're still very set in their
ways, even though the husband is now reading through Mormon and will
probably finish the entire BofM shortly. I've neevr met more stubborn
people than the Afrikaaners. It was nice to see them though. They're
nice even though they're crazy. I got a couple of pictures with them
too, so I'll send them later.
We went on exchanges again this week, but I stayed in Alberton which
was pretty lame. I did witness a guy pulling a trailer turn too sharp
and flip the trailer right in front of me though which was pretty
cool. It's good that I wasn't any further ahead of where I was though
or it would have landed on top of me.
They also have a ton of wild birds here that look like Peacocks
without the long tails all over the place. I threw a dirt clump at one
and pegged it right in the head. I'm usually a horrible aim, so I
don't know how it happened. I thought I killed it for a minute, but it
eventually flew away. It was kinda sad and funny at the same time,
because I really didn't think I would hit it.
Yvonne (Jessica's mother) we baptized this week, and I'll be
confirming her next week. It was really an awesome day and I love them
so much. And they actually care about us which is nice to see once in
a while. Not many people here even think of us as people, so it was
We had to fill the baptismal faunt on Saturday part way because it
takes like 5.5-6 hours to fill all the way, so while we were waiting
at the chapel for it to fill, we taught an awesome Plan of Salvation
lesson to a man named Andrew who is going to be baptized on the 25th.
We did some awesome illustrations on the chalk board too, if I do say
so myself. And I do.
Other than that, not much happened again this week. We spent a lot of
time doing stuff that just needed to be done that wasn't really
missionary work. I did get to talk to the Mission President which was
awesome. I want to be like him someday. He's one of the nicest people
I know. He's probably very close to being translated.
Anyway. I love you all, and am so thankful for all of your support and
letters. I hope you all have an awesome week.
Elder Balmforth

I forgot to mention that transfers are tomorrow. Pray for me that I
get a good compantion.
Peace out