Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30. 2012 Second Week in Munsieville

Hello all,
First of all, I'm sorry that I cannot send any pictures. I think my sd card has picked up a virus from hooking it into some of these sketchy computers that we email on. I will send more as soon as I get a chance to.
This week was an interesting one, even though not much really happened. It was kind of sad to start off with though. Being in township is fun because you see so much interesting stuff, but you also see some of the saddest things that you've ever seen. Just to name a couple, at the beginning of the week as we were coming out of our branch mission leaders shack we saw a drunk man carrying his newly born child and yelling curse words at what I think was a girlfriend of his or something. When he saw us he asked us to pray for him, and as we were following him and his child back to his shack we happened across the drunken mother of his newborn little girl (who we found out is still breast feeding the baby while she is drinking and taking who knows what). And keep in mind that I said mother and not wife. As you can guess some unkind words were exchanged as we passed. I have never been so confused as to how to handle a situation before. After we left the shack we came across another crying woman asking us to pray for her because her boyfriend has been beating her. It is so sad to see all of the dysfunction here. I know that it could all be healed if these people would just listen to what we have to say. I've seen some incredible changes in people's lives because of the gospel, but a lot of these people just don't seem to care that their life could be better. All that they care about is their next drink, hit, or sexual encounter. 
The other day we saw another man drinking with his child in hand and his girlfriend right next to him so we thought that it would be a good change to possibly heal a broken family. As we talked to him, however, we found out that the child he was holding was one of five, with several different mothers. The strangest part of the whole situation is that he was listening to gospel music while doing all of this and found the entire situation funny. I'm trying to use these situations as motivation to work hard and heal families by sharing with them the gospel, but it's really hard not to be dragged down by all of these things that we see.
On a happier note, President Omer invited all of the missionaries to watch a presentation by the BYU Young Amassators called Harmony. They're touring all through the southern tip of Africa for a while and it was quite refreshing to take a break from proselyting and talk to some Americans after the show.
Other than that however, not much has happened this week. I don't know how many hours we've spent walking, but at least my legs don't get sore any more. I wouldn't mind though if we could get some of our appointments to stick. I think that out of like 26 appointments that we've scheduled this week like 8 of them actually kept. The ones that kept though were awesome. We've been teaching a couple of father led families that are keeping commitments and seem to be progressing. The first family is made up of a father named Kambani, a mother named Parten and a little girl. The second is a father named Gonny, a mother named Rachel and two sons. We've only met with them a couple of times but I already love them and our meetings with them make all of the walking and ditched appointments worth it.
I love you all and am so grateful for all of the letters. You're always in my prayers, and I hope that you are all doing all that you can to be better and grow to love the Savior and understand his Atonement. It's something that I have to work on continuously, and am still nowhere close to where I need to be. But I promise each of you, that as you try, you will see blessings. 
Peace out,
Elder Balmforth

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23. 2012

Hello Everyone,
I was finally transferred. Which is really good and kind of lame news. It's awesome because I finally left Alberton and I get to experience a township called Munsieville, but it's like the only walking area in the entire mission. Just in time for winter too. I love it though.
My new companion's name is Elder Peterson, from Utah of course, but so far he's my favorite companion. We get along great. We're like the same person which is awesome. 
We also moved to a 4 man flat, which is temporarily a 5 man flat because one of the new missionaries is waiting for his Zimbabwe visa still. It's way tight and we all share the same shower in the morning which is hectic. It's like a race every morning to not have the cold shower at the end. The last missionaries destroyed the flat too. It was nasty and we threw away so much crap. It was ridiculous. And as you could probably guess, they treated the area the same way. That's kind of why we're white washing it. A lot of the members we talk too don't really have anything nice to say about the last missionaries. We pretty much have no teaching pool, and the area book was horrible when we found it. It would've almost been the same if we didn't have an area book at all. We're doing our best to fix it though.
However, even with all of these problems, I still love the area a ton already. It's so much nicer to teach people who are humble. The best part though is not having to talk to people from the far side of their gate with their dogs going crazy. It's pretty awesome. The area is pretty sketchy though, so we are trying to be really careful. Even during the day, somehow, I'm a magnet for drunk people. I don't know why, but they won't stop hugging me. One guy, I don't know if he was drunk or not, punched both me and Elder Peterson in the chest a few nights ago which really caught me off guard. I didn't know what to do, but he just walked away after that. 
Thank you for all of the prayers and letters. I'll let you know more about the area as I find things out. I love and miss you all. Don't forget to pray, read your scriptures and go to ALL of church.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16. 2012

Hello Everyone,
I've got some exciting news. I'm finally leaving my first area tomorrow. I got a call from my mission president on Friday night letting me know that I'm going to be "white washing" an area with a new companion. I don't know to where yet, but hopefully I will get to go somewhere interesting this time.
This week has been a decent week with regards to teaching. We haven't picked up any new investigators this week, but we have had some good lessons. We've increased our teaching of father led families as well which is pretty awesome. I'm excited that I'm leaving the area, but I'm sad that everything seems to be picking up and progressing more now that I'm about to leave. I'm going to miss the branch members a lot and the people we've been teaching.
We were able to spend almost all of Thursday doing a service project in Alexandra at a high school there. It was a lot of fun, and after we painted all day we got into a pretty intense game of basketball with some Afrikaners. We kicked their trash by the way. It lasted almost all day and was a nice change of pace from tracting.
Once it gets dark it's almost useless to tract or contact here because everyone is paranoid that someone is going to rob them. So once the sun goes down no one will answer their door or talk to you, so we end up going home early to plan or call people if we don't have appointments set. One day this week though when we went home we didn't really get anything done because some of the other elders brought over Risk, and it lasted a long time. You'll be happy to know that I dominated the board though. It was pretty awesome. I took a picture of the board, but I can't send it this week though because I'm emailing from some pretty sketchy computers, and I don't want my sd card to get a virus.
General Conference was amazing also. I loved almost all of the talks. I only fell asleep for one of them, which is pretty good for me. While all of the talks were awesome, we didn't feel like any of them really were geared toward us as missionaries. If I'm wrong let me know, but I didn't get a lot of help as a missionary from this Conference. Except maybe Christopherson's talk.
That's it for this week though. Thank you all for the extra letters and emails. I can tell that you were paying attention during the Sunday morning session. I love and miss you all.
Elder Balmforth 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April 10. 2012

This week was a pretty good one. I am still way more than ready to leave Alberton though. This area is just rediculous and I feel bad for any missionary, especially any new missionary who gets to serve here. It's a nice place to live if you're not trying to do missionary work, but if you are it might as well be some barren wasteland.
We did teach a few good lessons, but I have no idea whether or not they will bring any converts. I'm trying to stay hopeful though. Apart from all the tracting, it was a pretty interesting week though.

On Monday we went to a China Mall, which is this massive warehouse type shopping center filled to the brim with cheap chinese knock off stuff. Every little shop inside it has the same crap, you just have to search all of them to find who has the cheapest prices. I didn't buy much, but I did get an awesome pair of legit brass knuckles though. I also got a hat like Eddie from Christmas Vacation for R100, which is only like $12. It's also pretty sweet and I wear it all of the time because it's starting to get freezing cold here.
On Tuesday we had interviews with President Omer. I really enjoy talking to him. He's one of the nicest guys in the world, and if I get anywhere close to the person he is in my life I'll be well on my way to the Celestial Kingdom.
Not much happened on Wednesday, but on Thursday we got brand new bikes which makes a world of difference in our daily mini-marathons. It was a surprise too. The Zone Leaders just showed up with them one morning when I was on my way to Alexandra for exchanges which turned out to be pretty crazy too. I was with my District Leader, Elder Madsen, in this township and somehow we ended up speaking at some memorial service for some non members who we'd never even met before. That wasn't even the weird part. We spoke after their pastor woman finished her little speach on Psalms 23. I read a verse out of the Book of Mormon and just didn't tell them where I was reading the scripture from. It was pretty awesome.
That is all the interesting stuff that happened really, other than we were dropped by some investigators this week in a strange way. The manager of he retirement village where they lived, called us and told us that we were making his tenants feel uncomfortable, which is a lie because the only time we met with them they talked more than we did. I think they just showed one of the pamphlets we gave them to someone who started filling their head with stories. It was pretty lame but it's ok.
I couldn't write yesterday really because of the Easter holiday, but some of the missionaries in my Zone got together and we played a pretty intense game of risk, which was awesome.
Anyway, I love and miss you all and am so grateful for all of the letters and emails. Transfer meeting is on Tuesday the 17th. Pray for me that I get transferred.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, April 2, 2012

April 2. 2012

Hello Again,
This letter is going to be very short, because nothing has happened at all really this week. We set up a lot of appointments, and like usual, most of them cancelled. Because of that, we got to spend a lot of time tracting, which is much much less fun than it doesn't sound. But it's ok. We did meet some very good people, which outweigh the horrible mean people we met that I never want to see again in my life. It's strange to me how people can be so mean to a couple of missionaries.
It really was a good week overall though. I'm just trying to come up with a response for when people tell me "I don't want to waste your time, I've already been saved,' or "I respect what you do, but I'm not interested. I wish you luck." If I wasn't a representative of the Lord, I would probably have some pretty rude replies. It's ok though.
Other than that, nothing has happened. We had a couple of dinner appointments with some awesome families in the branch this week which was a nice change of pace from our usual daily mini-marathon in dress clothes. It's also gotten pretty cold here this last week because we're heading into winter, and no one here has heating, they all just put up with the cold for a few months until it gets hot again. It is really cold though. I had to sleep with my sweatshirt on last night under my blanket which I never expected to happen in Africa.
I'm sorry that nothing incredibly interesting has happened for me to write about this week. The Church is still true. I love and miss all of you. Have an awesome week. Thanks for all of the emails.
Elder Balmforth

 This a teaching aid that one of the Elders in my zone drew 
and gave me a copy of. I think it's pretty cool.

I just thought this was a cool picture that I took in our area 
one night while on our way to an appointment.