Monday, June 25, 2012

June 25. 2012

Hello Everyone,
This week the craziest thing happened. One morning a bunch of our appointments ditched, so we were just walking around tracting and I saw this house with a broken window, and instead of fixing the window, someone had just put a picture of Jesus in front of the hole. I thought that it would be a good opportunity to start a conversation with someone on some common ground, so we knocked on the door. It turned out that there was a 19 year old kid that lived there on his own, but he was willing to listen to us, so he let us in and we just started to talk with him and teach him about the restoration.
We hadn't gotten far at all into the lesson when a drunk guy who lived in the shack behind the house turned up his music so loud that we could barely hear ourselves think. It was so loud that my companion lost his train of thought as he was talking, so he mentioned to the kid that the music was a little distracting. The kid then got up to go and talk to the guy, even though we told him that it was ok and he didn't have to, he went anyway. As we were waiting inside the kid went outside and we heard the music get turned down. Not long after the kid came inside again though, the music turned up louder than at first. The kid we were talking to, his name is Lucky, just went to the power box and flipped off the electricity to the drunk guy's shack. Next thing we know the drunk man is in the house. One thing led to another and Lucky and the man were brawling and Elder Rowberry and I were in the middle of them trying to pull them apart, but before we could get them separated and calmed down, Lucky grabbed a metal coffee pot thing and bashed the man over the head with it and split this guy's scalp wide open. We got them separated, and the drunk man left, but came back in with a hammer, and lucky had grabbed the wooden handle of a sledge hammer like they were going to fight to the death. We ended up forcing the man out of the house and convincing Lucky that it wasn't worth it to kill the guy, and we had to stand and barracade them from eachother until the police showed up. It was pretty crazy. The police came and separated them and basically sent them to their corners. We didn't stay, but just set a time to come back and talk to Lucky again when things had calmed down.
Then yesterday when we went back to speak with him, we ended up talking to him for a while about his life, his family and what he does all day. He's a really cool kid and is going to school for engineering right now, and fixes computer chips in his spare time to earn money. He's one of the first township african kids who isn't completely self centered. It was so cool. Anyway, we ended up teaching him almost the entire restoration and we could see that it made a lot of sense to him and that he seemed to be prepared. He even got really excited, agreed to be baptized, and says the most honest prayers that the spirit totally witnesses to him of the truth of what we are telling him. He even seemed sad when we left. There's even a ton of stuff that I don't have time to write about him that has made him to be prepared.
That was the crazy thing that happend this week, and Lucky and another man we're teaching named Langton are a couple of the only real rays of sunlight in my life this week, other than getting to come and read all of your emails. 
Thank you all so much for writing. It helps me feel a lot better. I love and miss you all and hope you have an awesome week.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, June 18, 2012

June 18. 2012

This week was a little warmer which was awesome, but it was really
hard in a lot of ways.
It started off interesting because I kind of had the ultimate black
bottle experience. We were teaching this family, and one of the women
wanted us to give her child a blessing for her athsma problems. And
that is fine, so we agreed. The child was acting kind of crazy, being
loud and hyper. We asked if we should come back when the child was
asleep or something so she would sit still, but they wanted us to do
it right then. So in front of the entire family, the mother of the
child just pulled down her shirt and began to breast feed the child to
calm it down. It was rediculously awkward, but would've been even more
so if we had made a big deal about it since the entire family didn't
seem to be phased in the slightest. This culture is way strange. I
don't know if I will ever understand it completely. So we commenced to
give the blessing, but I never want to do that again.
After our district meeting, our District Leader Elder Fagg (I know, I
know.), put together a district activity where we played soccer for a
couple of hours. I thought I was in relatively good shape from walking
and biking all over the place, but I thought wrong. The activity was
on Friday afternoon, and I'm still in a crazy amount of pain. I've
been limping around our area from appointment to appointment like an
old man. It's rediculous.
After that Elder Rowberry and I, mostly myself, offended a sangoma. A
sangoma is a witch doctor and they're really crazy, and this guy
really made me believe in the actual power that satan and his angels
actually have. He told us some crazy stuff. He's actually not a full
fledged sangoma yet, he is just saving up money to buy the sacrificial
cow and goat, and all of the food and alcohol for his initiation. I'm
not even joking, that is actually what he is doing. I have absolutely
no doubt that africa will probably be one of the first places to be
cleansed by fire at the second coming.
After that lesson I felt so horrible. I was shaking and really very
freaked out after talking to him and his girlfriend. I was scared for
them. They believe so strongly in all of this, and in doing so give
actual power to those beings from the unseen world. It has always
sounded like crazy stories until now to me. That experience combined
with the all of the let downs from our progressing (or were
progressing) investigators pushed me very near to a mental breakdown
this week. I'm a lot better now, but it has been a crazy couple of
On the bright side, it's monday, it's warm, and I don't have do deal
with anything else like that until later tonight.
The mail strike is finally over, so I have been getting a ton of
letters that were hold up in the mail which have been awesome and have
helped me a lot this week. So thank you everyone. I love and miss you
Elder Balmforth

Monday, June 11, 2012

200 Day Mark on Sunday

Hello Everyone,
This week has been really crazy. We've taught a ton of lessons, but no real hope of anyone new progressing though. We did find a lot of new families. We started teaching like 14 new people. I hope it goes well. It is miserable here though. I never had any idea that it could be this cold in Africa. The apartment has no insulation or weather stripping so you can still feel the wind even when you're inside sometimes, so most of the time we are home we are huddled around the little heaters that we have, but we're about to run out of electricity, so we'll see how it goes. I don't think I've ever been so cold. It's the strangest thing. I mean, I am in Africa.
I did see something funny this week though. I walked into this shack that is probably 10x8 and there were like 4 Africans huddled around a little heater watching Roots on a massive plasma screen tv. It was rediculous. I don't think a lot of these people have their priorities very straight.
I did get some good news though this week. The mail strike is finally over so in one day I got like 5 letters which was awesome.
I just wanted to say thank you everyone for the letters again. Sorry there aren't really any inspiring or funny stories this week. But at least I don't have as much to vent about either.
Peace out.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, June 4, 2012

June 4. 2012

Hello All,
This week has been hectic. It’s ok though. But the craziness continues
as I sit in this sketchy little email shop with muslim prayer music
playing in the background.
I finally got my new missionary companion this week. His name is Elder
Rowberry. He’s from Peoria, AZ, is 22 years old, and is about 6’4”.
He’s really cool though, although it’s scary to have to be pretty much
the only one supporting the area. The mtc really doesn’t teach much
about teaching, but rather the importance of the fundamentals of
missionary work. He really doesn’t know what to say, and gets pretty
nervous in the lessons we teach, but he’s a good guy. I just have been
putting him in situations where he has to sink or swim, and he usually
comes away from it ok. He is pretty celestial though. He’s one of
those guys that makes you feel like you do horrible in every aspect of
the gospel because he is so good. I hope I don’t corrupt him or
This week has been one mixed with a ton of emotions. I’ll start out
the day feeling like I’m going to do great. I’ll feel way motivated
and want to do my very best, but by the end of the day I feel like
“get me the heck out of here, these people make me feel like punching
a baby!” The fact that I am training a new missionary doesn’t help
either. I don’t really like being the one who has to decide all of the
time exactly what we are going to do, scheduling everything, and then
having to carry all of the lessons. It’s making my hair even more grey
I think. It’s ok though. Somehow I make it through.
It’s also been a pretty discouraging week when it comes to our
investigators. We haven’t taught a whole lot of lessons, and the
people we are teaching really aren’t keeping commitments. I feel like
they don’t care, and I have no idea how to stress the importance and
eternality of the choices we make and the message we are trying to
share with them. It really isn’t something that you can teach. At
least I haven’t found out how to do it yet if there is a way. The only
way I know is to keep bugging them about reading the Book of Mormon.
That’s what changed, and is changing me. Nothing anyone ever told me
has made me believe the church is true, but when I actually started to
read and ponder and pray. I just don’t know how to make people do
those things. Everyone seems to think that their problems are so
unique and that reading is way too simple an answer to be the right
one for them. But they’re wrong. From what I’ve seen, it is only by
doing the standard mormon answer (reading, praying and going to
church), that fixes any real problem. Any.
Sorry to vent, it’s just been a crazy week and I don’t think it’s
really a good idea to say these things to my greenie. He still has his
fresh out of the mtc hope. I guess it’s good I’m training though.
Maybe he’ll rub off on me a little.
Anyway, I love you all. Reading all of your letters really has been
the highlight of my week, and I feel a lot better now. I miss
Elder Balmforth