Monday, November 14, 2016

Week 3 - SOUTH AFRICA



Elder Dos Santos and Elder LaHue in the Rocklands 2 Area

I am safe!! This has been the craziest few days of my life. Let me tell you all about it.

It took me 3 days to make it to my house. I flew from Salt Lake City to Atlanta. Then I took a 15 hour flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg, South Africa. My flight to Durban got delayed so I arrived at the mission home at around midnight of my second day traveling. First of all the airports are super sketchy. People walk up to you and follow you around and ask for money. I was scared out of my mind when I first arrived. The city of Durban is huge. Several million people live there! I got there at night so I could see all the lights and it's nothing like what you would expect Africa to look like. Before I left in the morning, my mission president, President Thompson, took me driving. Since they drive on the left side of the road here it was both awesome and scary at the same time. I drove on the freeway as well. I don't understand any of the traffic rules here. Also, the taxi drivers are crazy and don't obey the law and run red lights and stuff. Crazy.

After I drove I found out I would be taking a 10 hour bus ride to my first area. Fun stuff. Luckily, I met up with my trainer at the bus station. His name is Elder Dos Santos from Mozambique. He is an amazing guy and he is always smiling. Also, he is younger than me so it's kind of funny that he is training me. His English is so well, even though he learned it on his mission. He originally speaks Portuguese. We got to know each other very well on the bus. I was pretty delirious from traveling 3 days and the culture shock of being in Africa. On Saturday night I finally arrived to my first area.

Our area is called Rocklands 2, and we are in the city of Bloemfontein (Pronounced Bloom-fon-ten). In some places the city is nice and in others is very poor. There is a lot of trash laying around. Luckily where we live is nice and has a fence to keep out intruders. We live with 2 other Elders, Elder Leonard and Elder Wright. We all share a car which is nice as well. The people are here interesting. They are so nice, and they all will talk to you! The main problem is I have a hard time understanding most of them. They have a heavy accent, influenced by the 11 national languages of South Africa. The people at church are absolutely wonderful. They speak English and Sotho (Pronounced Soo-thoo). I am trying to pick up on some of the language but I am not really getting anywhere. I am still adjusting to African food; they feed you a ton. These are some of the nicest people I have ever met.

When we sing in church it's normal church hymns but it sounds more like soulful music. There is no piano playing. I actually really like it. The spirit inside our church building when we sing is so powerful, maybe even more than when we sang at the MTC. I am definitely blessed to be here and in this ward. One interesting thing is that every Sunday a set of missionaries speaks on the radio at 6am for about 30 minutes. Maybe I'll get to be on African radio!!

Everyone here calls me Elder LA-HOO-EY which is really funny to me. In one of the languages here the way they pronounce my name means "white person". They have a special handshake here which is cool. Also, the missionaries here say "POWER" all the time except it's pronounced "pow-wah". I don't know why but it's fun to say. When we talk to people instead of saying "good" we say "POWER". Fun times.

One thing that Elder Dos Santos said to me that really stuck out is "love keeps me on my mission". I am already beginning to develop a strong love for the people and culture here.

I love you all! I could only send one picture because of the slow internet but I think we are going somewhere better next week.

Love,
Elder LA-HOO-EY