26 September 2011

26 September 2011 - Alfonate's Baptism

Alfonate (in colorful sweater
with family), was baptized
Hello family (and everyone else)!

I didn't take many notes this week, so I'll have to roll back the mental clock a bit to remember what happened. A week ago seems like both a long and short time ago. It's weird.

First of all, I saw my first baptism here. Not a convert baptism, an 8-year-old baptism. Especially special was that it was the first baptism I myself have performed. You can really feel the Priesthood power working through you as you say those words. The baptismal font is a circular portable water tank in the backyard of the chapel, which itself is a rented store. Alfonate is extremely short, even for an African child. The top of his head was under my shirt pocket. You can see him and his family in [this] picture, ...the [group] picture was taken right after the baptism. There is one investigator in the crowd, and it's also a good cross section of the Port Alfred Branch. This is about half the active ward. At the far left are the Branch President Robinson and his wife. In front of me in the blue and white shirt is Sam, who is going on a mission to Ghana in December. 2 heads to my right is Brother Canny, who comes fellowshipping with us almost every day. He is very selfless and dedicated. And to his right is my companion Elder Barker.
LDS Branch members in Port Alfred, South Africa
Elder Brennan Tekulve is 2nd from right

Friday we had an interesting experience as well. We knocked on a door and was let in by who we found out to be a priest in the Old Apostolic church. He just let us in to be polite, and we weren't really getting anywhere. Then, Elder Barker saw on the table a printout of 'How Firm a Foundation' and closer inspection revealed the LDS Church logo. It turns out he has and uses about half of our hymnbook at his church. His daughter printed them out from the internet for him. Most he didn't know, so we explained the history behind 'Come, Come Ye Saints' and even sung 'Joseph Smith's First Prayer' for him. By the end he said he would tell everyone he met Elders from the church where those hymns came from, and he said it was an honor to meet us. He mentioned that he wouldn't join our church, but I know that whenever he sings or practices those songs, he'll think of us.

Kids waiting in line at the
Port Alfred Soup Kitchen [file photo]
The Book of Mormon
in Swahili
We are also doing a lot more service lately, like playing the piano and talking at a frail care home and volunteering at the Port Alfred Soup Kitchen.
If you still haven't watched the short movie called "Upon My Holy Day" on the first disc of the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History DVD then I highly recommend you do that with your family. It's a great message and explanation of the Sabbath Day.

The Zone Conference. It's small, but I'm behind Sister Wood
 in the red dress. 3 Zones, about a third of the mission, were there.

We continue to meet new and interesting people here in Port Alfred. I continue to experience firsthand the power of prayer and the wonderful guidance of the Holy Ghost. Practically daily we run into just the right situation, or randomly turn to just the right scripture. Truly the Lord is with us.
Port Alfred from nearby Station Hill
Elder Judd Cline, 1993 in
Johannesburg South Africa [file photo]

'Hi' to Elder Judd Cline and thanks for the pictures [taken during his mission in Johanesburg, South Africa]

-Elder Tekulve

 the riveting NICOLAS CAGE: THE MOVIE,

2 Nephi 4: 34-35
34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
 35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.

19 September 2011

19 September 2011 - Elder Renlund Quorum of the Seventy

Elder Renlund
First Quorum of the Seventies
19 September 2011
Hello family!

This is the last e-mail I'll be sending to anyone who's not my (step)parents, grandparents, or siblings. For further updates ask tekulve@gmail.com for the address of the blog he will set up.
This week we heard Elder Renlund, President of the Southeast Africa Area and member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, talk in a tri-zone conference. About a third of our mission was there and we had lots of great instruction from him, his wife, and President and Sister Wood. If you remember Elder Renlund gave a talk in the Sunday Afternoon Session of the October 2009 titles "Preserving the Heart's Mighty Change." He's a heart surgeon, you see. I asked him about his talk and what it was like giving it. He had about a month and a half to prepare and of course there was no set topic. He talked about the very specific inspiration he got while writing it, and about the hardest part in condensing it to the alotted time limit. He had given speeches in front of large audiences before, but this was particularly different because he had never used a teleprompter before and also because of the lights you can only see the first few rows, and then you're talking to a black void. He also described other aspects of Conference that he swore us to secrecy about. He has a really great sense of humor as well. At one Conference he gave a closing prayer and told us that if the speakers are going over or under the time limit, the intermediate hymn and closing prayer are shortened or lengthened. He walked up to the pulpit and the little screen on it said '30 second prayer'. it was very very nice getting to know him.
Another great thing he pointed out was about the hymn "How Firm a Foundation" which when originally written was titled "Exceedingly Great and Precious Promises" and is one of only 4 hymns in the hymnbook sung mostly from the perspective of the Savior. Something I didn't realize that is amazing is in the last verse:

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, I'll never no never
I'll never, no never, no never forsake.

I always thought that meant that I myself will never forsake Jesus. Really it's the other way around. The soul that hath leaned on Him for repose He will not and He cannot desert to my foes. My soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, He will never forsake.
The woman I told you about last week this week has moved to Cape Town, so we don't get to baptize her. But she was doing very well and was growing in faith, so that's good. In the meantime we have a new father-led family going to church yesterday and they both loved it. Yay!

#4 Buzz Cut

Last week after e-mailing I did a few interesting things. First I visited the WORLDS LARGEST PINEAPPLE in tiny Bathurst, South Africa. It's a big pineapple-shaped building. Inside is a pineapple museum. About pineapples. Here's a question: do you know how pineapples grow? If you think you do, you're probably wrong. They've very strange, pineapples. I would include a picture but my camera just ran out of batteries. You can look it up on Wikipedia. At least you can have a picture of me in front of THE BIG PINEAPPLE.
And then I got a #4 buzz cut. I have to say, I really like it. So easy to clean and I never have to comb it! Though I can't help but think I look like my cousin Eric. That's the second picture. Obviously.

I hear how busy you all are at home. Whew. Also good to know the drought is ending. Stay safe in hurricane season.


 -Elder Tekulve

World's Largest Pinapple
Spongbob Squarepants - and Elder Tekulve - was here

1 Peter 1: 3-10
3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5) Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6) Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
7) That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
8) Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
10) Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:

12 September 2011 - Saved A Life

12 September 2011
Happy Labor Day!
Hello again everyone.
This week, this week.... was busy. Probably the highlight of it was Tuesday afternoon. We were speaking to a man on the street when a woman came up to us asking for a prayer. This is not uncommon; "pastors" are held in high regard in the township.
Down the Street outside our Flat
She told us that her nephew, who she had been watching over, had committed suicide. She blames herself and is so distraught that that day she was on her way to hang herself when she saw us. She recognized us as servants of the Lord and must have seen just a little bit of hope. We talked for about half an hour at her house about the Plan of Salvation and she said she might or might not see us the next day... the next day we didn't see her but her family did. Thursday we did get to talk to her again and she seemed much better. She told us she wanted more than anything to be a good mother to her daughter and a good example to those around her, and committed to be baptised. So you can tell everyone that Elder Tekulve (and his companion) saved a life last week.
We had 14 (!) new investigators, blowing our goal of 6 out of the water. I'm sure the Elders at Grandma's will be shocked to hear that one of our problems is too many investigators! I am also learning much better how to listen to and understand the promptings of the Spirit.

Up The Street Outside our Flat

This week the Africa Southeast Area President Renlund is touring the mission. I'll see him Wednesday in Zone Conference.

A week ago I saw some Tab in the store and had to try it. It wasn't bad, like Pepsi but better. I love getting pictures from anyone as well. What does my desk look like now that Mom has moved in? What's Mariah been drawing lately? What games are Nik and Noah playing? (if they have time for games, haha)

--Elder Tekulve

1 Corinthians 2: 1-5

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

05 September 2011 - Officially Spring in South Africa

The plaque in front of the church
05 September 2011

Hello friends and family,

I know a bit more about the rules now and I know that we're only supposed to e-mail family and they can forward it to others. So I have an idea. Dad can start a blog or something where he can put all my e-mails and pictures I send. Then he'll forward the address to everyone in the 'To' field up above. Once I get word that's done I'll only be directly e-mailing my parents, step parents, and siblings. Maybe my grandparents too.

The package I got - it was large

I got Mom's and Brother Kelley's package last Tuesday. The hymnbook is very helpful, and is that tie from Germany? Also thanks very much for the snacks. The Chex Mix disappeared very quickly.

It's officially spring now, though the weather is varying wildly. For one or two days it was pretty hot and wind-less then it got very very windy and cold. Whew.

"Don't do it kid! You've got your whole life ahead of you!"
For some reason, I imagine goats with Scottish accents.

I'll tell you about Uncle Ronald. I suppose technically he coloured but he's pretty dark skinned for a coloured guy. Anyway he wanders around and is old and bearded. He loves to see us and usually starts telling us stories about his family. Unfortunately he only speaks Afrikaans and I don't think he realizes we don't understand him. He's a bit mentally challenged but that's okay because he doesn't drink or do drugs and he's very nice. I haven't learned any Afrikaans yet because I've only met 2 coloured (Afrikaans) people who didn't speak English very well.
Some nice flowers

Otherwise we've been meeting looooots of people lately. It's a problem finding time to follow up on everyone. Among them are some humble and faithful people and some people who are just too susceptible to Satan's fiery darts to understand us. But I'm thankful for what I have.
Yesterday (Sunday) I resolved to share my testimony every fast Sunday for the rest of my mission. Only 21 more to go!

29 August 2011 - Zone Conference

Cape Town SA East London Zone Conference
Elder Brennan Tekulve is 4th from the right
29 August 2011
Hello everyone,

The first transfer (6 weeks) is now over. As I said earlier I won't be going anywhere.

A week ago I made some "Rocket Fuel." It's basically 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk and a lot of lemon juice. It tasted... interesting. I like to crumble some biscuits on top to sort of dilute it a little.
Rocket Fuel in the making

Cleaning the Chapel on Saturday
There's something I would like the family to see. There's a set of DVDs called "Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Visual Resource DVDs." You can probably find them in the library. On Disc 1 is a short movie called "Upon My Holy Day;" it's a talk by Elder Holland. I would like you to find some time to get the family together and watch this. Discuss it. Kind of a family home evening thing.

I heard about the heat you've been having in Texas. As I've said before central heating and AC is nonexistent in Africa, but I've gotten used to it. Last night with our heater we got up to 67 degrees Fahrenheit in our room. And that was warm.

The Beach - This is as close as I'll get
I'm reading (and greatly enjoying) Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage. In a comment by Elder Barker, apparently someone once asked Einstein who the smartest person in the world is. Einstein replied, "Ask James Talmage." Verify?

Another fun fact: Do you know what the longest running broadcast on TV ever is? It's a program put on by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir called Music & the Spoken Word. As seen on TV since 1920! I don't know where you can find it but it's nice. No commercials too.

Missionary Planner Before (Right) and After 6 Weeks

Erm... because of Internet issues I only have 8 more minutes to e-mail. I think the package Mom sent is here but I have yet to retrieve it. Thanks in advance! I loooove getting packages.
Mr. John asked if we have a lot of investigators. Yes. We have a lot. The problem is most of them misunderstand our purpose. Most want to be closer to Jesus, but they're not willing to do anything of their own will to do that. I imagine they want us to visit a couple of times and tell them they're saved. Silly Pentecostals. But that's a discussion for another e-mail. Long story short: Africa is different.
A Goat Eating Cabbage - Monch monch monch.
Final request: can you forward my e-mails to Dirk Rasmussen? I'm sure he'd like to hear how I'm doing.
Until next week,

-Elder Tekulve

2 Nephi 32:9:
But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

22 August 2011 - Pineapple Flavored Soda

Elders Tekulve and Barker
22 August 2011

Hello family and friends!

Remember when I said a couple of e-mails ago that I hadn't eaten at any natives house? I spoke a bit too soon because that night I had a short appointment at which was served delicious margarine sandwiches and pineapple flavored soda. I had never heard of pineapple soda before... Several weeks later, this last weekend, I was at their house again for a proper meal. For dinner was pap and this concoction of cabbage, peanut butter, onions, and tomatoes all boiled together in a pot. I'll be honest, it was not great. But that's okay! In contrast to that just yesterday I ate at another members house. It was the biggest house I've been inside since I've got to Africa and it is amazing with glass walls, huge second story porch, and it's right next to Kowie River with an amazing view of the hill country north of here. We had chicken, rice with gravy, baked (?) potato halves, fried Mediterranean vegetables and for dessert a self-admitted "mix of everything left over in the pantry". It consisted of, from bottom to top, pie crumbs, peach slices, lots of caramel, chocolate sauce, and chocolate mousse. And we ate it with ice cream. SO GOOD.

But then the rest of the day was kind of a snapshot of the past couple of weeks. Every single appointment scheduled in the evening was not available. They were either gone out somewhere or there was only women in the house so we couldn't teach them. At least we got something done; we received several referrals and taught one recent convert in the evening.

Saturday was All Africa Helping Hands day. Every ward or branch in Africa goes out and does a service project in the same day. Our branch painted the wall of a nearby child welfare center. It was right underneath a large tree in which were chirping and tweeting several dozen little yellow birds. Included is one picture. Speaking of birds, there's one here called the Hadeda Ibis. So called because of it's very loud AAH AAH AAH AAH AAH that it feels the need to belt out wherever it goes.

It's fun to tell the natives about Halloween. Describing it to someone who has never heard of it, it sounds so weird. The same thing with root beer. Root beer doesn't exist here. Another weird cultural thing is the colors (Chrome says I'm spelling colors wrong) of the houses. Common colors include: sky blue, bright pink, and mint green. On another random note, so far I've been told my name sounds either Russian (several times) or Serbian.

A week ago, after e mailing, I did 2 things I've never done before. First I tried making homemade yoghurt. The result was something yoghurt-like but thinner than average. It also tasted kind of funny. Since the ingredients for yoghurt end up being actually a bit more than just buying it I'll stick to buying it. Today I'll start on the Lemon Rocket Fuel.
After that I cut Elder Barkers hair. And he cut mine. Both of us are too scared to get out the scissors so we just trimmed the sides with a buzzer. Surprisingly, neither or our heads ended up looking too terribly bad.

This Monday marks the start of the 6th or last week of this transfer. At the end of this week it is possible but not likely that I'll move somewhere else or have a different companion. What will probably happen is I will stick with Elder Barker for 6 more weeks then he will leave and I'll get another senior companion. Then 6 weeks after that I'll move somewhere else. That's the pattern anyway.
I haven't got Mom's package yet but it should arrive maybe next week. Also included is a picture of my dinner and of me being a giant.

Have a nice day,

Elder Tekulve

Luke 9:62:

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

15 August 2011 - Xhosa 102:

15 August 2011

August is half over. Is every e-mail going to start with a comment on how fast time flies? Only time will tell.

Something that's been really odd here is coming to terms with the fact that I'm a minister. I even have a ministerial certificate. More important than that is what it implies. You see, the Dutch really did a number on these Africans all those years ago and how everyone and their dog is Christian. Automatically and everywhere I go people call me pastor, brother. You know the stereotypical African gospel church? Where church is more like a disco than a church? That's exactly what it's like. Hallelujah.

Everyone believes in Jesus Christ. Everyone welcomes us in out of respect, even if they don't particularly want to talk to us. We get special visiting rights outside of visiting hours at hospitals. It's a very new thing to me.

I'll tell you about the Seti family. We met them on the street, and they wanted to ask us questions because they had seen us visiting another family down the street. We got their address and eventually found the husband, Innocent, at home. He asked questions about the nature of Heavenly Father. He said he was searching for the truth, that he was hungry and thirsty for it, and that it would set him free. He said he believed we were there to tell him the truth. We taught about baptism and he agreed that same day. Near the end of our visit his wife Noxolo (No*click*olo, see below) came home. She had read the pamphlet we gave her a week ago three times from front to back. She said she really wanted to be baptized but was terrified of the flowing river or ocean. You see, someone had died being baptized in the river a while back. Not in our church, but one of the ones where they dunk them 3 times under water. So she hadn't been baptized. We explained that baptism can be done in any water and that we had a shallow, clean pool that we could do it in. It's basically a big tank of water out behind the building we rent for church. Right before we left Innocent asked about the Book of Mormon. He wanted to know if it was the same as the Bible. Amazingly Noxolo answered his question. She knew it was another testament of Jesus Christ similar to the Bible. We hadn't mentioned anything about it to either of them yet.

Xhosa 102:
  • Xhosa has 3 different clicking noises. All three are made with inward sucking pressure as opposed to blowing presure.
  • -X is pronounced with a click out the side of the tongue. This is most similar to "click", as if imitating a snap. The word Xhosa sounds like "*click*osa"
  • -C is pronounced with a sucking noise in through a small part of the front of the tongue. Think of a "tsk" noise.
  • -Q is the loudest and is made by moving the whole front part of the tongue from the roof of the mouth to the bottom. Imitate a "tick tock" noise. This is made the same way but is lower pitched.

I love Mondays. I seems like every night at the end of the week I'm progressively more tired, than on Monday I'm refreshed. I also love to hear from everyone.

Talk to you later,

-Elder Tekulve

15 August 2011 - Super Secret Suprise

15 August 2011
Last Wednesday I was in East London and Elder Barker and I got to wander around a mall for an hour or so. I found these at Toys'R'Us. Kind of unexpected as I don't think you can get the show down here. Oh well.

Also attached is a picture of the flag I found. Mariah said it might be England? But hanging like that it reminds me of the crusaders.

To Mom-  I kind of told Elder Barker I would try to get him a belt buckle shaped like Texas. The bigger the better!

Elder Barker can't eat red meat so a lot of the meat we have is chicken or tuna. What good ways to prepare chicken and rice can you send me? With preference towards quicker recipes.  It is cold but only really cold at night. I have that raincoat so I'm okay.
A South African Treasure

The Flag of England

08 August 2011 - Learn a Little Xhosa

L to R: Elder Tekulve, Zone Leader, President
08 August 2011

Hello again everyone. It seems like this one was another quick week. I made a video but it's muuuuch too big to send! So here are a few pictures.

Country Club in Cape Town
You know I can always think of things to say during the week but here typing it I forget. I lowered the size of the pictures I take a little so that I can send them.

[This] picture was taken Saturday morning when the Robinsons took us to a very nice fancy country club for breakfast. There was SO MUCH delicious food. So much.

Also there were monkeys.

I'm trying to learn a little Xhosa. Here are some phrases spelled phonetically:
  • Molo- Hello
  • Molweni- Hello (plural)
  • Tata- father, also an honorary
  • Mama- mother, also an honorary
  • Mlungo- white man
  • Spazi- shop
  • Opee- Where is
  • Agako- not here
Those last two we use often. It seems like more than half of the appointments we make don't follow through. Oh well, we keep trying. The kids in the street here often swarm around us or our car, shouting in Xhosa. The children in the families we visit often are especially excited to meet us and know our names.

Cape Town
If you send packages, hot chocolate mix (the kind that uses water) is a good thing to send. I drink that a lot. Elder Barker can't eat dairy or red meat so we don't really get those things including milk. Muesli with yoghurt and raisins is a favourite breakfast of mine.

Our Study Area
Our Kitchen
Last Friday one of the members was out in the rain and the cold and never got dry so at about 10 we had to get him to the hospital for hypothermia. He's doing fine now, though. Elder barker also has a cold so the next few days may be weird. On Wednesday we're spending most of the day in nearby East London for a zone training meeting. That's 2 hours away, but it'll be nice to see other Elders. The only ones I've seen these past weeks are the Zone Leaders whose pictures were in the last e-mail.

What else is going on? Just working through the weeks. They pass by so fast. This transfer is already halfway over.

Thank you for your prayers for me,
-Elder Tekulve

01 August 2011 - Cape Town

Elders Bangerter, Nzuki and Bangerter, and
Elder Tekulve (seated)
01 August 2011

Hello everyone at home. I just got Mom's package this morning and it is awesome! Especially the Oreos. I think if you can't decide what to send think no further than CANDY. Haha. I don't need any more camera memory cards because I have another 6 GB after this one is full. And sorry I couldn't get pictures of my flat this morning but I just didn't have time! Next week I will. I do have pictures of the view from the Robinson's (senior couple) apartment though.

Last Friday was exchanges. We traded companions with the Zone Leaders. I was with Elder Bangerter from Pocatello Idaho and Elder Barker was with Elder Nzuki from Kenya. It was a challenge finding the addresses in the township but we did it. Pictured is Elder Barker, Nzuki, and Bangerter in the back. And me in the front of course. We don't have a washer as we said so we pay Sister Sphokazi Dayily to do it for us on Mondays. There is a laundromat but it is very overpriced. In fact a lot of things are overpriced here because everything has to be shipped in.

South African Coastline near Cape Town
Most of the day consists of visiting investigators and members, we hardly ever go tracting. And we have a car too so that's nice. Otherwise it takes at least 45 minutes to walk to the township. In addition to that walking such a distance after the sun goes down is a bad idea. So we are booked with appointments every hour from 10 to 8 or 9 except fro one hour for lunch. And always we're in the township. There are a lot of people here just waiting to hear from us. One guy named Tabiso was so eager he asked when he could be baptised almost before we introduced the subject. A man from Congo named Belge also seems to be nearing baptism. It's not uncommon to pick anyone from the streets and find someone eager to learn. No one has chased us with an axe yet (and that has happened before).

We also haven't eaten with any members yet. the Robinson's take us either out to eat or make lunch for us once a week. The week before last it was at an Applebees-like place called Tahoe Spur. It has silly Native American themed decorations but it was so delicious compared to the sandwitches, spaghetti, or chicken we usually make at home. Poor Elder Barker can't eat milk, yoghurt, or red meat.

oh yes, I need to remind myself about this other stuff. The Robinson's have a blog. Visit bunkanddian.blogspot.com . And gas/petrol is around $5.40/gallon!

You should have seen us getting our package. Elder Barker's aunt is in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir so one of the things he got is the new CD they made. I think it's called This Is The Christ. We were both so excited.

Oh, can you send pictures of the Dodge? [that was totalled in the last week], I want to see how beat up it got, haha.

25 July 2011 - Port Alfred, South Africa

Elders Tekulve and Barker

Hello everyone. I have now been in my first assignment for 5 days. I'm in the town of Port Alfred, South Africa [click here to view Port Alfred in Google Maps] and my new companion is Elder Barker. He's from Pocatello Idaho and has been out for 13 months. With us here is the senior couple the Robinsons, and that's it. It's a 2 man district. I'm sending a picture of me and Elder Barker.

Basically there's the town of Port Alfred and that's where all the white people live, then there the township nearby who everyone just calls the township even though it has a name. That's where all the black or coloured people live and where almost the entirety of our work is done. The second photo is generally what it looks like. There are chickens, dogs, goats, cows, pigs, and children just running around everywhere. You won't get many photos of the township because it's not a great idea to go around waving a camera. Here you're lucky if your roof is more than a metal sheet. but one of the things that I was guilty of and am making progress in overcoming is it's not really someone's possessions that make who they are.
We live in a small apartment at the edge of town. It's clean, dry, and stable so that's good. I would have sent a picture but I haven't had time to take one! There is no dishwasher or clothes washer/dryer. Even that I don't mind so much next to the unfortunate fact that this is pretty much the only missionary flat in South Africa that doesn't have drinkable tap water. Luckily purified water is cheap at the stores. I was blessed with a companion that thinks teaching is more important than eating. The first evening after we came back to our flat I asked "What's for dinner?" He replied in effect "You want dinner?" We work very hard all day, so much so that I didn't even get a chance to unpack until last night. I'm not complaining, that's how it should be.
The local branch is in a rented storefront and has about 30 active members. The senior couple is the branch presidency and the Elders are his councillors. I teach Priesthood class. It's interesting being 1/4 of the people in charge of the bulk of the planning for a branch. About half of the work done is retention and visiting members or less-actives. It's basically up to us to strengthen the branch. Yesterday it was rainy and cold and windy and muddy but we went out to teach anyway.
Mail stuff here:
Elder Brennan Tekulve
South Africa Cape Town Mission
PO Box 181
Observatory 7935
South Africa
Keep in mind that very heavy boxes or boxes containing something worth more than $40 incurs charges on this end. It also takes a while for anything to get here.
So what else is there? I still think about home a lot. I hope as I get used to being out here it'll get better. I love getting e mail so keep writing. Time is even weirder out here in the field than at the MTC. I can't believe I've been gone a month, it feels like so much longer. Even these 4.5 days have been very long. I don't really feel like a missionary. I'm not sure how I knew what being a missionary would feel like but I don't see it in me. So I just keep on working at it and I'll get used to it. Oh and I didn't mention but central heating/cooling is an alien concept in Africa. We have a puny little radiator for winter and a fan for summer. The weather is kind of like California I'd say. It gets pretty cold at night but during the day it's alright if the sun is out.
I guess that's it. Today is the day we do our shopping and cleaning and stuff so that's kind of like a break. It's funny, Elder Barker and I have almost no interests in common so if I want to talk about stuff from home it's hard to tell he's interested. Nevertheless I still miss everyone. In the first letter I send home I'll include the memory card I'm using now. But it's not full yet. So I'll not send it yet. Tell Brother Dirk Rasmussen I said hi and I talk about stuff I learned in his class all the time.
...A standard day consists of hourly pre-scheduled appointments with people in the township. We drive there because walking isn't always safe. So we never do door-to-door stuff and we rarely do what we call 'finding' which consists of walking down a street and talking to passers by. Last Thursday a guy walked up to our car and asked if he could join our church. He had been looking for us for a while because he saw that "the church in town did things good".  But in the lesson we scheduled for him we got there 1/2 hour early and he said he was waiting for us. After we finished our purpose he asked when he could be baptised. So yeah, he's very very eager. He looked a little confused at church the next day but that's to be expected. We only taught him about baptism and the talks were about priesthood. I hope he retains that spirit of learning. oh, and his name is Tabiso.

22 July 2011 - Cape Town Mission Home Arrival

Elder Brennan Tekulve, Sr. Wood and President Wood
Johannesburg SA LDS Mission
22 July 2011

Here is evidence that...Elder Brennan Tekulve made it safely to South Africa Cape Town Mission.  We spent 20 delightful hours in the mission home, and at Signal Hill, which overlooks Cape Town, with him and his MTC group.  They are special to us because they are our very first group of incoming missionaries since we arrived in late June.  They are spirited and enthusiastic, have great senses of humor, and are very bonded.  We expect great things from them.  Thank you for sharing [him with us].

President and Sister Wood
[South Africa Cape Town Mission President and his wife]

Elder Brennan Tekulve: "We are the first batch of missionaries for President and Sister Wood as well".

Johannesburg SA LDS Mission Home. Elder Tekulve is seated to the right of President Wood
Johannesburg SA Mission Incoming Missionaries, July 2011
Elder Tekulve is 5th from the left in the back row