Monday, November 20, 2017

Rocklands 2 - Area 56

On Saturday, we went on exchanges to Kimberley so that means... road trip! We took our member friend Thabang with us and drove for 2 hours to get there. Kimberley is in the Northern Cape province. It is the only branch of our church in that province. It is also the furthest area away from Durban in the mission! Some missionaries call it outer darkness. We enjoyed!

Sunday was a special broadcast from Salt Lake City directed to the Area Southeast Area. It was similar to a 2 hour stake conference. Speakers included Tad R. Callister, Kevin S. Hamilton and Carl B. Cook of the 70, Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, and Elder Neil L. Andersen. The church is developing at a rapid pace in Africa, and the members have been encouraged to participate in programs such as self-reliance. Other topics included the growth of the church in Africa and strengthening our current and future families. It made me excited to get back to weekly family home evenings with my own family, and eventually my future family!

Not much on the work side to report other than things are moving at a usual pace. No baptisms this transfer, but we should have a few lined up in the coming weeks. We worked 58 hours last week, which is the most I have ever worked on mission so far. Heavenly Father is definitely blessing us with added physical capabilities as we perform His work!

With love,
Elder LaHue

Monday, November 13, 2017

Rocklands 2 - Area 55

Being a missionary means you never really have plans. You have them, but something always comes up to change them. Appointments cancel, other missionaries do crazy things, people call with tasks for us to do, etc. During the week we went on many exchanges with other missionaries. I'm glad that today I finally got some time to relax!

This week we have changed our focus a bit after talking with the Bishop and Stake President. Pres. Nyatshoba showed us a video while we were sharing the stake missionary report. It was a training about how to work with less active members (and recent converts). The insight we gained from that is to bring back members and also use them to find new investigators.

Saturday was a great experience for us! There were 3 hours open in the morning where we had nothing to do. We figured it would be a good time to find some less active members. We used a GPS, an old ward membership list, and my memory from being trained here. We found 4 less active families at home and were able to set appointments with all of them! We are planning to share the First Vision with them to revive their testimony. At church another LA family, the Jubane Family, showed up. There is a husband, wife, and daughter who are members. When we taught them I was with Elder Blamoh. He felt prompted to talk about the temple so we did, and they expressed desires to be sealed as a family. In addition, the whole family came to church on Sunday. Brother Jubane has 2 potential referrals for us!

Today, November 13th, is my sweet mother's birthday. She is __ years old!! Hahaha. I love her to death. She did her best to raise me right, teach me correct principles, and love me with all her heart. After school I would always come home and talk to her about my day. I can turn to her for anything, and I know she will do her best to help me. Please take the time to wish her a happy birthday!!

Elder LaHue

Monday, November 6, 2017

Rocklands 2 Area - Week 54

It's back to being hot in Africa!!! We reached 34°C (93°F) this week. The weather is dry as usual. That doesn't stop the missionaries though!!!

Work this week has picked up quite a bit. Our teaching pool is slowly broadening. We had 12 new investigators, and 6 investigators at church. We walked 1 hour to church in the heat with a woman named Palesa. After church we talked to her and she said it was great! I felt so good after walking with her. We had offered to walk with a mother named Brenda and her kids as well, but they ended up getting a ride from her brother and came to church as well! We also met with the Bishop yesterday and talked about working with some less active priesthood holders to help them come back. We passed around a sign up sheet during Elder's Quorum yesterday and many of the brethren wrote their names on it. Next week we are working with and meeting with the stake president.

On Monday, we had zone conference at the Bloemfontein chapel. Elder Hamilton of the 70 came to address us. I was given the opportunity to conduct the leadership meeting we held before the conference. Counseling with Elder Hamilton gave us a great opportunity to learn and grow. His wife spoke to us about what it means to bear pure testimony: keeping it brief and stating truths you have come to know. Elder Hamilton taught us about how teaching people is about more than preparing them for baptism. It is about preparing them to enter the temple and make sacred covenants with Heavenly Father. Looking at others with an eternal perspective is the right way to be able to feel God's love for them.

With love,
Elder LaHue

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Rocklands 2 Area - Week 53

P-Day got moved to Saturday, this week because Elder Kevin Hamilton, President of the Africa Southeast Area, will be presiding at our zone conference this Monday. 

This week Elder Mnisi and I have been working very hard to try and find new investigators. We knocked quite a few doors this week. We are still looking, but I'm sure we'll find some promising ones soon. Yesterday we committed a man to be baptized and he accepted, so that was our bright spot for the week. Hopefully he'll be able to come to church this Sunday so that he can feel the spirit of it.

Not much else to report on there, things are slow right now. Instead I'll share a scripture from the Book of Mormon that I read this week.

Alma 48: 11-13,17:
"And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery; 

Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.

Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.

Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men."

I love the example that Captain Mormon set for his army. He was strong, but completely relied on God for strength. He was "firm in the faith of Christ", gave much thanks to God, and labored much for his people. If we were all like Moroni, then we would be able to overcome any challenge thrown at us! Which we can now, as long as we try to emulate the example of Jesus Christ like Moroni did.

Elders Mnisi, Nielsen, and I all turned a year this week. To celebrate we went to a fast food placed called Stadium and ate ice cream! Later that night we burned a pillow. The celebration was short lived though, because the work we have isn't finished.

Take care and with love,
Elder James Austin LaHue

Monday, October 23, 2017

Rocklands 2 Area - Week 52

I turn a year this Thursday!! And what a better way to celebrate it than being in the area where I began my mission? I got back to Rocklands late Friday night. Being here has brought back so many memories. Along with that, there is been much change and growth in the ward and with the members in the last 9 months. Even the area itself is more developed! I find myself getting lost while driving because things have changed. I imagine it's what St. Cloud will seem like to me when I come home in a year.

Sad to be out of Lesotho, but I know the Lord has great things in store for me here. Elder Mnisi and I are working very hard. I know Elder Hinnen and Elder Baker will be able to pick up right where I left off back in Khubetsoana! I got a very warm welcome from the members here. I'm surprised they all remember me! I was driving in the area and I saw two girls from a family I baptized, Tankiso and Nti. When they saw me their eyes got big and they yelled "ELDER LAHUE!!". It made me so happy! We went around visiting people that I have previously taught, and we also have many new investigators here. Rumor has it that the ward will split soon.

On Thursday we went to MLC (Missionary Leadership Council). We drove to a place called the Drakensberg, a huge mountain range in South Africa and Lesotho. On Thursday we hiked to the top, came down and ate dinner, and slept in a Zulu hut. On Friday we had the meeting with President Thompson. We discussed what changes could be made in the mission to bring us closer to Jesus Christ. It was a powerful learning experience! Also quite exhausting, I lost a lot of sleep. 

I'm still settling in to Rocklands again but I am happy to be here. I know that Heavenly Father has a special purpose for bringing me back, and I am grateful to him for doing so.

With love,
Elder LaHue

Monday, October 16, 2017

Maseru, Lesotho Area - Week 51

Lots of crazy news this week. I will report them in the order in which they occurred.

1) We got into a car accident Tuesday night. I was making a right turn at night when a blue Honda Fit tried to overtake me and smashed into the driver's side bumper. He was going considerably over the speed limit. Luckily I turned slow because if not I might not be writing this email today. Thankfully there were no injuries. My bumper was mangled up, and the other guy's car skidded over to the other lane. His car was banged up pretty bad and he couldn't drive away. After much time the traffic police showed up. The other driver has no insurance (because nobody here does) and he will appear in court soon. Poor guy. We made it home at about 10:30 that night, safe and sound.

2) Mabela Fantsi was baptized on Sunday!! The service was wonderful. Many of our members came to show their support. His mother and sister even came to watch! We have been teaching Mabela for 6 weeks now. He is 15 and learns very quick and has a humble heart. I had the privilege of baptizing him, and then I gave him a big hug! Next week he will be confirmed. The following week he will be given the Aaronic Priesthood, and then he will be set apart as the Teacher's Quorum President! Khubetsoana will really be able to use him moving forward, and I am happy for him! Too bad I won't be able to see that, because...

3) I am leaving!! Predictable, 7 months in an area is long. The real surprise is where I am going. I am being transferred.... back to Rocklands 2!!! I'm going to my first area again!!! Not to mention exactly a year later. I am extremely happy for this opportunity I have been given to be around people I love and missed! 

4) I am having a grandson! Haha. Elder Hinnen is training. The biggest shocker of them all! The "royal family" grows larger. I will get the chance to meet him before I leave on Wednesday. I am proud of Elder Hinnen and the missionary he has become! He will do a great job!! Now I can hand over the branch to him. The work is complete! I've been saying goodbyes to members and it has been very heartwarming. I love the people here with all my heart.

Elder LaHue

*My pictures all got wiped again. I'm tired of email shops. Sorry!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Maseru, Lesotho Area - Week 50

All we did this week was hype people up for General Conference! It was my second as a missionary. We watched it at the Maseru chapel a week later because of broadcasting issues and time difference. 7 investigators came, so not too bad! During the week we created these flyers and passed them out to people we met in Khubetsoana. Around 200 were handed out. On Friday there was a car wreck on the way to the area so we took advantage and passed them out to people stuck in traffic. Attached is a picture of Elder Hinnen and I waiting in our boarding between conference sessions. I'm known for loving to eat peanut butter too much. I blame the lack of good food options around here!

Speaking of conference, Dale G. Renlund's talk "The Priesthood and the Savior’s Atoning Power" was an answer to my prayers. I loved the focus on covenant keeping and also the personal story about the man who had his temple blessings restored. It hit me hard when he said "I informed him that after I restored his blessings, his membership record would show only his original baptism, confirmation, priesthood ordination, and endowment dates. He choked up again." Something stirred deep inside of me after hearing that message, and I am so grateful for Elder Renlund for being inspired to deliver it.

The other talk I liked is Gary E. Stevenson's talk "Spiritual Eclipse". The "gospel glasses" analogy was insightful and also pretty cool. I want to be able to focus on the things that are most important in life. I think that serving a mission has helped me to realize that before I wasn't using my time in the best way. I want to put the gospel and Christ first in all aspects of my life so that the other things can fall into place.

Most likely this is my last week in Lesotho. I'll probably be sent back to South Africa for the majority, if not the rest of my mission. Time to make this last week count!!
Elder LaHue

Monday, October 2, 2017

Maseru, Lesotho Area - Week 49

We received rain for the first time in over 6 months!! Huge blessing. It's plowing season here in Lesotho and the farmers need it. Driving through the mountains in the mud isn't the best, but we make it work! Also I cut all my hair off! Haven't done that since 8th grade! 

I haven't seen conference yet but I am excited. As far as updates go I'm probably due to be transferred in 2 weeks. I've been here too long, and now there are issues extending my visa again. Training is almost over!!! The work here is going well as usual.

On Thursday I went on exchanges with my last companion, Elder Hicks. He is my zone leader now. We had quite a reunion! I learned how to make homemade yogurt. I am going to try to make it tonight. As a district we are going to make pizza tonight! Most of our activities revolve around food because there isn't much to eat around here unless we get creative.

I don't have much other news. I think there is a member of the quorum of the 70 touring the mission soon. Gotta keep pushing! Love you all!

Elder LaHue

Monday, September 25, 2017

Maseru, Lesotho Area - Week 48

I am really impressed with the effort level that my companion, Elder Hinnen, has put into his missionary work. He has changed from a new, ready to work missionary to a focused, efficient, and diligent one. We had exhanges this week and I had him stay in our area with another new missionary, Elder Guymon. When I came back at night, they had done such a good job teaching people and had many experiences. Now he is ready to take over the area when I leave! My work is almost complete, haha.

This week our efforts have been focused on working with the branch leaders. Yesterday we had our first branch counsel, where we discussed reactivation and missionary work. All of the leaders are on board to work with us, and we passed around a sign up sheet during Elder's Quorum to see when everyone is free. All the members of the Elder's Quorum wrote their name on the list! We have been working with our branch mission leader, Thato Mohapi, each week for correlation. We even gave him the opportunity of giving his first blessing last night! Now it is up to us to reach out and contact these members to take them with us. Every day we have taken a member with us, and their testimonies help so much!

During zone conference I learned how to more effectively use the Book of Mormon in my teaching. Not to just talk about it, but to open it and read it with people. Sharing stories, examples, and applying it directly to their lives. As I have done so recently, I have felt a change in my work and much more of the influence of the Spirit in our lessons.

1 Nephi 1:20 "But behold, I Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."

A tender mercy is a small blessing that we see day to day as we learn to recognize Heavenly Father's hand in our lives. We have been trying to focus on writing them down, because they help us to be grateful to God. Yesterday we had so many! One of them was when we were walking and we saw a guy we are teaching names Hlompho. At the same time one of our members, Brother Tumo, was walking up the hill, nowhere near where he lives. So we pulled them both in and Tumo helped us teach about the Plan of Salvation! Little things like that are blessings from the Lord that help me make it through each day.

Elder LaHue

Monday, September 18, 2017

Maseru, Lesotho Area - Week 47

Man, I was so tired this week! And not tired of the work, just physically exhausted. I'm doing great now, but my body was ready to give out on me. On Friday was the worst. We went to an appointment with an awesome 16 year old boy named Mabela. We were reading the Book of Mormon with him and during parts of the lesson we both fell asleep! He was cool with it, but I felt so bad. We are going to get him some sweets to make it up to him! After that I was so tired I had to resort to buying an energy drink just to keep myself awake.

Mabela is one of our most favorite people to teach. He is smart, and he walks FAR to get to church, even though he is just a kid. This Sunday he walked with his mom and sister and the Mphethe family to make it to church. We were teaching him about the Spirit World and he called it "Soul City" which is the coolest name I ever heard to describe it. 

We are also teaching two guys named Peter and Monyane. They love to come to church and learn about the gospel. We are helping them stop smoking. Attached is a picture with the number 0 drawn on our hands. It helps them to remember when they grab a cigarette that they are trying to reduce to zero. I love these guys, they are really just solid good guys at heart. I've been so privileged to have the chance to help them come closer to Christ.

Also we found this cool family that has a trampoline! So naturally, I walked into their gate, past their dog, and knocked on their door. They were really nice and I got to jump on it with these kids! Can't say I would have been able to do something like that before my mission.

Elder LaHue​

Monday, September 11, 2017

Maseru, Lesotho Area - Week 46

First of all I want to thank everybody for all the birthday wishes!! It was one of the best days of my mission, and it wouldn't have been without all of your love and support. In order to not break tradition, we had an "Olive Garden" dinner at the Dransfield's Monday night. I ate so much cake I thought my stomach would burst! Tuesday morning the district came over for a jam session. We recorded "If You Could Hie to Kolob" and I played guitar. The video is too long to send, unfortunately. Throughout the day we taught some power appointments! In the evening we went over the the Makutoane's and had a small party and had these custard drinks. Then at night I ate my favorite food, donuts!!

I would like to thank my parents especially for all the love and support they have given me during the course of my life. They have raised me the best they could, and taught me how to work hard and make smart decisions for myself. Plus they sent me some American food, which I have been craving for months. You all have no idea what it's like!! My sister Katy sent me Lucky Charms, which makes me so happy haha. Also I have been reading and rereading all the letters I received. They bring me so much joy and light! I can't begin to give enough thanks, especially to Heavenly Father for giving me these two years to serve Him.

My Dad sent me 72 kazoos, which is odd. But it turned out to be one of the best gifts ever! We give them out to little kids and teach them how to play. It makes them really happy to get a free toy. Also I made a moo sound at a cow with one and it mooed back to me a few times. I'm pretty sure I had a conversation with a cow with a kazoo. Also, they are great tools to use to get out of sticky situations. When a drunk Ntate (man) comes up to me, I just give him one instead of money! The small things in life make me the most happy!

Thanks for all the love,
Elder LaHue