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

Monday, September 9, 2013

September 9. 2013

This week was a good one except that somehow I caught another cold. It sucks but everything else was pretty awesome.
Last Monday Elder Dalton and I went to a Crocodile ranch for a tour. And since we were the only two people there the tour guide took us right down to the crocodiles to feed them. It was awesome. The tour guide was pretty crazy too. At one point he found a piece of PVC pipe and started poking the biggest crocodile they had in the face with it trying to make it mad. The whole time taunting it. It reminded me of that scene in Joe Dirt where he's doing the alligator show smoking a cigarette. It was just like that except with a black guy instead of a redneck.
We also had a zone meeting this week which was pretty lame, but afterward I went on an exchange with Elder Ouma. The same Elder Ouma that I lived with in Molepolole. It was pretty fun. He got to rant a little bit about how crazy his companion is. I already knew that though. I like him a lot. He's a good guy.
One night also as I was climbing into our truck to go to another appointment, I noticed that as I turned our headlights on there was an old woman standing up and peeing in front of the truck and she was so close that I could tell that she was well hydrated. It's a horrific image that is impossible to erase from your mind. 
Something really cool that happened, however, was an experience that we had with one of the families that we are teaching. The mother of the mother in the Kashira family lives in the UK and is a member of the church. One of the members of her ward from the UK is named Janet Taylor and is currently serving as a senior missionary in the genealogy center in the Johannesburg area office. Janet is good friends with the mother in the UK and has sponsored the family at times in their life but has never met them and we arranged to help them meet this last Saturday. It was pretty cool to see how excited they were. I think it helped with our teaching relationship as well.
Over all it was an interesting week. I love and miss you all. Have a good week.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26. 2013

this will be brief. Sorry. This week was slow, but good. We had a bunch of investigators at church though which was cool.
We had our District Conference this week. It was pretty ridiculous. We had it in the same community hall we were having Sacrament meeting in a few weeks ago. There was a ton of people but the sound set up was horrible and the way the church members decorated the hall was super ridiculous. I couldn't understand basically anything that was said, but our investigators said they liked it, so whatever.
I've had some crazy African version of the flu for the last few days too which has sucked. If our toilet was capable of feelings, it would hate me.
Anyway, that's about it. I hope you all have a good week though.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19. 2013

We've finally reached the end of another transfer. Only two left now. That means twelve weeks, crazy right?
I love my new companion, he's probably one of my very favorites that I've had thus far. Actually, he'll probably be my last unless something strange happens. We get along really well though. And, Elder Kavindja, from the other companionship that lives with us is leaving, and we're not exactly sad to see him go. So, all in all, it was a good week.
Our turnout at church this week wasn't anything special, but it was still good. We are still very blessed, and the area is many times better than when I first arrived. It was also good to be back to a normal church schedule again, now that the roof of the chapel is finished.
We did our Mormon helping hands project on Saturday. It was actually a lot of fun to get out and do some service. Nice not to wear Sunday clothes for once. Elder Dalton and I did work, the other two missionaries are some of the laziest guys I've seen though. But it's OK, we're having a change tomorrow.
Next week we have our district conference, and since we live in a mission dependent district, President Omer is like the Stake President, so I get to see him again this week. I like that guy a lot.
Anyway, I love and miss you all. See you soon.
Elder Balmforth

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August 13. 2013

Thank you for all of the birthday wishes. It was really fun. In fact the reason that I couldn't write yesterday is because we had the chance to go to Kruger National Park. It was awesome. It was like a safari where we were able to see wild buffalo, zebra, deer, wart hogs, a leopard, giraffe, and a ton of elephants and hippos. In fact we ended up in the middle of this whole herd of elephants, big and small. Our truck made one of the elephants that we came across mad and it started to make a big scene about our presence. It was really cool. I'll try to send the pictures next week as I don't have a lot of time today.
We had a zone conference in Johannesburg where we watched the new mission president seminar the work of salvation. It was really cool. I loved it. I'm so glad that the presidency decided to show it to the whole church. If you haven't seen it yet, you should.
I was also able to meet my new companion Elder Dalton when I went down. He's from Monroe, UT, is twenty years old and is about six months on mission so far. He's a really cool guy though and I like him a lot. He might be my last, how crazy is that? And, as of today I have only thirteen weeks left. Ninety-two days. One week left of the transfer, and only two more transfers. It feels so weird. Good, but weird.
We also had a good week at church. We're meeting in our chapel again finally, although we can only have sacrament meeting because the entire building isn't finished yet. It was good though. We had the confirmation of Joel who was baptised last week which was cool, and a bunch of our investigators showed up again, even some new ones.
I love and miss you all so very much. I hope your week was as good as mine was. 
Elder Balmforth

Monday, August 5, 2013

August 5.2013

This week was a good one. We had a baptism for a boy that we've been teaching named Joel yesterday. He's from a part member family. He showed up late and freaked us out though. Punk. The actual baptism and program went smoothly though.
We also had a lot of investigators at church again. The ones we have are coming quite consistently now and most of them are scheduled for baptism at the end of September. It should be good. And all the investigators that came to church stayed afterward to attend the baptism which was really cool.
On Saturday we received a call from President Omer informing us that my companion Elder Pedersen is being transferred early. Apparently some of the missionaries that are supposed to be going to Zimbabwe are having problems obtaining visas, so our mission is temporarily absorbing them until the problem can be sorted out. So they have to shift us around to make it all happen. My new companion's name is Elder Dalton, and yes it's a different Dalton from my second companion. I'll meet him on Thursday when we are going down to Johannesburg for a Zone Conference. He's from the same group as Elder Pedersen, and he tells me that he's a really cool guy. From what I understand though, he's huge.
Other news, Elder Bednar is coming to visit my mission in October so odds are that I'll meet another Apostle. Crazy right?.
That's all folks. I love and miss you all.
Peace out.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, July 29, 2013

July 29.2013

Hello everyone, I hope you each had an awesome week. It was pretty slow, but ended well this side of the world.
We were supposed to have a baptism on Sunday, but the chapel is undergoing some renovations so we had to meet in the Community centre which meant that we didn't have access to the baptismal font. Also, at the rate the construction workers are going it wont be finished for several weeks, so we're not quite sure when the baptism will be. I suppose we could just do it in the river that runs through our area, but I believe that the ratio of water to sewage has shifted in favour of the sewage, and I'm scared enough of the HIV as it is. So we'll wait.
Work was pretty slow going this week, but it ended well. We had a bunch of investigators at church again this week which was awesome. All have a lot of potential for baptism in the upcoming months. It was really cool. Heavenly Father has been blessing Elder Pedersen and I a lot this last little while. We have done something to please the referral gods. We've been getting referrals like crazy.
This week we're half way through the transfer which means I only have 2.5 left which equates to 15 weeks. Crazy right. It has been going by slow and fast all at the same time. I am super excited to come home though.
I love and miss you all.
Peace out.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, July 22, 2013

July 22. 2013

This week was actually a really good one. I'm still happy that it's Monday though. We didn't do anything cool last Monday, nor do we have anything really cool planned for this one, but the work was pretty good.
Yesterday we had two father led families at church that loved it and are planning on coming back next week. One of the we committed to baptism on the 29th of March. Elder Pedersen and I have a lot of hope for them.
We've basically given up tracting. We acquired a copy of the branch's membership list and have been going through and trying to locate part member families and less actives. We've also been visiting weekly each of the main active families in our area to teach them how to have family home evening and to try and squeeze some referrals out of them. It's been working to our benefit so far. And we're only on page 4 out of 21 total. So wish us luck.
We have a baptism planned for next week. A boy named Joel, who has a brother who is a member already. He's a cool kid. I like him a lot. We'll keep you updated as far as that goes.
It has been pretty awesome this week. Heavenly Father has blessed us a lot. I hope it has been the same for you all. I love you.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, July 15, 2013

June 15. 2013

This week went by super slowly, but at least it's over now. I wish that I could say that something interesting happened, but alas, nothing did.
Just the standard finding, teaching, sleeping. We tried to put some people on date, but it didn't work. We're still going though.
My temple recommend expired so President Omer is going to come and interview me for a new one tomorrow. That should be fun.
I'm studying the old testament right now. 1 Samuel. It's cool. A lot cooler than anything Moses wrote anyway. That's about it. Sorry. 
I love and miss you all.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, July 8, 2013

June 8. 2013

We have reached the end of another transfer this week. Everyone around me is staying put though. I'm happy to be with Elder Pedersen though.
It was a good week this week. Not terribly interesting though. Elder Pedersen became really sick on Wednesday this week so we spend all day at home. I did a lot of reading.
We had dinner at Elder and Sister Smith's on Friday. They are a senior couple from California that work in Tzaneen. They made awesome American food. I miss food from home. I've been thinking of restaurants all week that I want to eat at when I get home. I am so sick of KFC. When we are in black areas it's all they have though. It's a little ridiculous. But when you gotta eat you gotta eat. Although I don't think I'll eat there ever again once I'm back.
One of the African Elders that we live with and I had a pretty big argument. It was silly but it was really making me mad that they spend all of our prep time in the morning to shower themselves leaving my companion and I nothing so we end up getting to our study late. I may have yelled. But I apologized and our relationship with the other missionaries has actually been a lot better since my little blow up. Funny how that works sometimes.
We also had the confirmation of Kenny, the man we baptised last week. It went very smoothly. He's a really good guy.
Other than that we've just been tracting and trying not to bash with people. People around here are just looking for a fight sometimes. They hear weird things, like that we drink blood and eat children and they actually believe it. It's hard for me to believe how stupid people can be sometimes. But whatever.
I fished the new testament and now am getting back into the old. Should be an adventure. 
I love and miss you all. Happy 4th.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, July 1, 2013

July 1. 2013

This is now the last week of the transfer. I think everyone is staying where they are though. That means only three left though.
This week was an interesting one. We began by seeing the only tame wild hippo in the world. We were able to touch it, feed in and I even kissed it. And it was a girl hippo. I kissed a girl on mission. Look at that.
This week we did a ton of finding this week. Not a whole lot of fruit, but what fruit there is, is sweet. We'll see this week though if all of our labors paid off. I sure hope so. 
We've been trying to do a lot of service to escape from the world of tracting and we've had some interesting experiences because of it. We've been helping this recently converted woman whose name is Sister Violet to clear a field so she can plant some crops. Elder Pedersen have cleared almost an acre and created furrows and everything by hand with just a couple of broken garden tools. It's fun though. 
We also tried to find some community service ideas by going to the magistrate court and the police station and speaking to the higher ups that didn't lead us anywhere. One of the police captains told us to come the following day and help with something they were doing at the community hall, so we showed up and just ended up listening to a bunch of people from other churches rant for almost two hours about rape in a language I didn't understand. I understood the motions they were making though which were a little disturbing.
We did have a baptism this Sunday. A man named Kenny and the confirmation of the girl we baptized last week. The week was really long. I thought it would never end, but looking back it was a good one.
I love and miss you all and hope all is well at home. See you all in 19 weeks.
Elder Balmforth