Monday, October 22, 2012

"The Challenge to BECOME" 10/22/12

Wow what a week and SOOOO much to say.  It has been raining hard core since last Monday!  Many roads and even houses have been washed aways.  Our yard had a small mud slide and took the land lords 12 ft wall with it.  It fell just before we came home and fell RIGHT where we park our car, ha good thing we were working or I would be riding a bike right now hahaha.  We were up late the other night after the priesthood session bucketing water out of the bottom flats and putting things on bricks.  Our flat luckily only flooded near the windows so not to bad.  We went to the town ship yesterday where we found the elders waist high carrying people across the flooded streets out of their flooded small homes to dry ground.  It reminded me of the early pioneers who carried people across the freezing rivers.  So the African water was not cold but who knows what the heck is infested in that water.  I'd like an appointment to get some blood checks hahaha.  So, needless to say its been a crazy week with a LOT of community service!
I will have pictures of all the flooding later on. 
We also saw quite a few people this week.  We saw Alan and had a powerful lesson.  He is comfortable in the church he grew up in.  To me that is the hardest situation to address.  I cant imagine some one telling me that the church I went to was good but was missing pieces of the truth.  Its not that any other churches are bad, they are awesome and help others to live the gospel and live their lives as close as they can to the truth, but......there IS more.  There is the fullness that was lost with the death of the apostles and it HAS been restored today.   I know so many are offended by the boldness of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints but we are bold because we love God.  We love All on the earth and share Gods desire to have them all live this life as he expects us and to one day return to him, being able to say that we did everything we knew to do and we gave it our all.  If you reject the truth because your comfortable where you are is that truly giving it your all?  Is that truly always seeking for the truth and following it?  The lesson went so well.  His friend, who is also a member did so well in explaining this to him.  He did it boldly but also with love.  It worked, he is praying for the truth but this time with a real desire to actually find out.
I watched the Priesthood session and a main focus I would say is to be bold in what we know to be true and to serve others.  It really made me feel bad because I have waisted a lot of time by not being bold.  I have always known it is all true but I have always been so scared of offending or pushing.  I realized what will I say when my friends come to me at the judgement day of god and say "why didn't you tell me?'' "you knew all this time and never told me".  I would be crushed.  So, its NOT that any of us want to be pushy it is that we love you and desire all God has in store for you and we KNOW the way.  Christ came to teach it to you and it was lost with the death of the apostles and confused as each generation passed.  BUT it has been restored in no uncommon way.  He called a Prophet as he always has.  He restored authority as he did before.  And I am so thankful for that knowledge. 
Anyone who thinks "now that's a little to strict that God would keep us from eternal life with him because we didn't seek for the truth or follow it?  Gods commandments are strict!  They are for the wise purpose to keep us clean and ready to serve.  If your loved one was lost or maybe far away from home would you not provide them with a very strict and flawless plan to get them home?  Would you be crushed if that loved one did not follow the plan exactly?  I would and so is He.  He sent us hear to strengthen us by following this plan.  It is not easy.  We will stray from the course.  He has provided a way for us to return to the path.  He sent us a Saviour who lived, Suffered and eventual Died for us all.  What about those who die with out the truth, Gods plan is flawless and they will have an opportunity to receive the fullness of the gospel and make necessary covenants to return to our father.  I KNOW that is true. 
So basically I have promised my self that I will be bold in sharing the gospel.  I won't be pushy and I will always be loving.  Its our Duty.  No, I haven't changed, I'm still the same.  I think that is one thing I really worry about is having people think I have changed.  Okay, well I guess I have actually hahaha.  I have a stronger testimony of the truth.  I have been through things that have made me stronger.  I also think I have learned how to love and care for others no matter who they are.  If they don't choose the same path I will still always love them, no matter what.  That is also our duty and I think its the part of our duty that can often be forgotten. 
I think it was Elder Dallin H. Oaks who gave an awesome talk that has helped me so much.  It's called, The Challenge to Become" I have learned that this life is not the time to be the savior its the time to BECOME like the savior.  We learn, we fall, we sin, we offend, and a lot more but we learn and we get better little by little, here a little there a little.  I'm so thankful for that doctrine because I'm just about the slowest learner and I have a lot to become.
I'm so thankful for the last two years.  They have been the hardest and best two years of my life.  We "become" a lot quicker when we serve God.  I learned in this General Conference that this life is the call to serve.  Not two years but  a whole life time.  I cant wait to continue on.
I can NEVER express the gratitude the way I feel.  I have had more support then I think any other missionary. 
I have the two best parents any one could ever ask for.  They have never been after what they want but they work so hard and never quit. They have sacrificed so much my whole life.  They have opened and closed business after business.  My mother has been up at 3am not able to sleep and goes down on her computer and works.  My dad has spent hours and hours and hours at his office my whole life, but always there anytime we needed him. He faces trial after trial, discouragement after discouragement, he is the most loyal person I have ever known.  He remains loyal even when others have not been loyal to him.  My parents have never in my life missed a game, a performance, an assembly, an awards ceremony and stupid boy scouts thing that I know my mom hated hahahaha but she came any way.  They have always been there and it has been so hard for them to support me 10,000 miles away but I have still felt the same support if not more.  I have felt their endless prayers, their faith, their tired and worn out bank account hahah.  So so much more.  Most importantly I will always remember their teachings they taught us obedience, love, charity, kindness, faith and of the savior and so much more.  They never stop and the most honorable thing is that non of it is for them it has ALWAYS been for us.  I cannot thank them enough.  I will forever be in their debt.
I have the worlds best three sisters, who for 19 years were patient and loving.  They also taught me so much.  I have felt their love and support.  They can always treat me how they please but when someone else mistreats me they have my back.  Sure I'm now a little particular and at times emotional and probably a little too loving for a 21 year old guy, but hey when your raised by wolves.......I love them.  Calee, Katee and Kelsee, thank you!  Dave and Riley thanks for putting up with them hahahahaha, I know its not easy hahahahahaha okay just kidding
I have the Best grandparents. They have taught me so much.  For some reason when ever I mess up,  I'm having a hard time.......or I'm hungry haha you will find me at Grandma Harwards and Jodi's or Oma and Grandpas.  Grandma Harward has taught me to love no matter what and to just suck it up and put it in the Lords hands.  Grandma and Grandpa taught my parents a lot, particularly Faith.  I have heard so many stories that end in my Grandpa Harward telling my dad to just have faith.  I love them and will really miss Grandpa.  It really hasn't hit me that he is gone and so I'm hoping I don't fall apart when I get home.  I love you Grandma and Jodi.
My Oma and Grandpa have taught me how to welcome the spirit, (unless weare engaged in a fairly in appropriate conversation, which would happen from time to time, but I also learned alot from those hahaha). Every single night that I would sleep at Oma's and Grandpas, Oma would kneel by my bed and say okay you say the prayer.  She taught me to love prayer. Grandpa would always play hymns on the harmonica hahaha it was awesome to wake up to that.  He taught me to stand firm in what I believe.  I love you both.
I seriously cannot thank every one in a single email.  There are SO many family, friends who wrote every month and helped me way more then they will ever know.  I have the best friends who wrote all the time updating me and encouraging me.  The best extended family, aunts and uncles and cousins who are great examples to me.  I wish I could go through and mention every one but this would be way to fetching long. Don't think because I didn't mention you that I'm not thankful because I am. 
I'm so blessed to have been here.  I'm not afraid to come home, but I'm pretty afraid to leave.  I love Africa. I love the people.  I love both my mission presidents and their wives, senior couples, other Elders.  I am so blessed.  Its so hard to leave, but I know its right and its not the end of serving.  The challenge to become is a life long process and this really is the challenge to become.
See you soon.  I love you.
Elder Balmforth

Monday, October 15, 2012

Don't Let Go!

OH what a week!  Monday we took the whole day to plan for the fire side then had a FHE with the Parkin family.  It was awesome they did a lesson on writing down our blessings and it was awesome to see how we are really blessed with so much!  I have been more focused in my prayers to be more grateful.
Then on Tuesday we woke up early and had our training with half the zone while President was interviewing. It went well, it was focused on obedience and planning and studies, so it went well, I guess.  Then we had his training with the whole zone.  It was AWESOME.  It really helped me see how I want to be in life.  It was on honesty in all we do and how important it is.  The last 5 commandments evolve around being honest, so obviously its pretty important.  I did a personal study on the last 10 commandments and related them to honesty and it really shows how God wants us and needs us to be 100% honest.  Can you imagine the world if no one lied?  Wow!  Then we ate lunch and we repeated our training with the other half of the zone while President interviewed.  My interview was great.  Sweet and short seems how I will have my final interview next week.  He thinks my plans for coming home are pretty great the only thing is he wants me to apply to both BYU's, hahahaha.   I hate to not follow council so I will pray about that one.  It was so cool to go to George and Knysna.  We met with both the branch presidents and that was great to see them.  They have hectic callings to run those struggling branches in the middle of no where.  They are awesome!  They also both said I have gained weight and look different haha, so I guess that's pretty good!  In knysna we went to go pick up the other elders and LOW AND BEHOLD it was at a family who are strong members.  I walked in and recognized them.  I TOTALLY taught that family for the first time!  It was a good lesson and they remembered me.  I have to be honest I didn't have high hopes for them!  The Lord did!  And no, it was a different family from Yoliswa.  I also saw her and took her a picture.  I also saw Luyanda and Veronice.  They are doing great we found and baptised them when I was there.  I love that family and now they have three little boys.  Power house!  We also visited sister Tessa she is an awesome sister and she fed us lunch!
Then in George we had a lot of fun seeing Elder and Sister Richins.  They are an AWESOME couple they work so hard and have seen alot of struggles in George but they are doing so good.  I saw Cecilia who is no longer active.  Her family was anti mormon and very abusive.  Her family just moved though to Dubai and so now she is trying to get Sundays off.  She really missed the church!  If you forgot who she was she is the short older coloured woman.  I loved her she reminded me of Kathy! 
We had alot of fun driving down and back my comp Elder Andiamanantena is THE BEST!  He is so fetching funny!  He is the perfect one to kill me.(mission lingo)  We have a great week planned out basically appointments every hour and  two exchanges.  So I'm looking forward to the week.  The fire side went so good!  We made the rod out of PVC pipe that we found in Brother Fourier's yard hahaa.  Then we had some tempters to get people to let go of the rod and some good spirits to whisper that they must not let go. It was completely dark. Lots of people let go and were lost then at the end there was a bright Christmas tree with the tree of life with white chocolate on it hahaha, then we showed the video Spiritual crocodiles by Pres Boyd K Packer.  Mom I think you should link that to the blog or just you tube it because it was really good.  It was about staying away from sin and temptation.  I know in this life its not easy but if we hold on to the word of god we will never be led astray.  I saw a woman who could not let go last night because she was helping a sweet elderly woman to hold the rod in the dark, so she was too busy helping others along the path that she could not stray.  We should practice this in life.
Well, I have to go.  Love you all and  thanks for everything!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Crazy, Busy and Going Strong! 10/08/2012

Wow what a week. Sorry there was not mass email last week, it was a crazy busy time with all the changes and traveling.  Small glimps into the future.  We took Elder Cowey to the Airport Wednesday morning it was sad but I always think everything will be harder then it is.  So, I'm doing great.  This week has been a little slow as far as the work goes. We did however find a new family.  The Bolani family.  They are so excited to learn more and begged to come to church.  They live in a small shack about the size of my bedroom back home.  It has thin wood and cardboard walls with a roof full of holes.  No running water.  Dirt floor, the whole works.  Its basically the typical shack.  They are really poor and sometimes people want us to teach them with false hopes of us helping them financially.  I really wish I could.  So I hope their intentions are not that.  That was bad English....sorry Oma. 
Were still teaching the Dewaal family and they are doing awesome.  Because they have had bad experiences with attending other churches in the past they still have not come to church but they are reading and doing well.  Last night they even said they feel they have received an answer and know its true! That was really exciting for us.  Whenever anyone tells me that I feel the spirit so strong just testify to me that it IS true!
Its so nice to work in an area with a big chapel because that means..........BIG SATELLITE,  so I got to see the Saturday and Sunday AM sessions even though they were at night.  It was awesome and I loved the new announcements about the age requirement for serving missions.  Hopefully that will help more to get out here. 
Were are doing a fire side this coming Sunday.  Its going to be about the iron rod in Lehi's vision. We are going to have a rod in the dark leading to "the tree of life" then people will hold on to the rod while the senior couple missionaries try to tempt them and get them to let go.  Obviously their goal is to hold on and not fall into temptation then in the end we will watch the video where elder Packer talks about "spiritual crocodiles", how in the wild crocodiles slowly approach their pray little by little just like satan and in life we have to be careful and watch out for spiritual crocodiles.  So hopefully it goes well and doesn't flop. 
Well thanks for everything.  I have really gained a huge appreciation for my family and our friends I probably have more support then any other missionary here and I'm serious.  So thanks for everything and for your faith and for your prayers.