19 September 2011

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.

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