Monday, April 27, 2015

week 72

Yah know, in my first area people told me that no one would want to mug me. Thus far they have been right. Anytime I've been in danger they were always targeting someone else, so I'm not too worried about this xenophobia nonsense. I'm not all that big, but compared to most blacks here I'm fairly large, so all shall be well.

The work is a bit slow at the moment.  April here is just one giant holiday, so most people are gone.

I'm getting more daring on my mountain bike. I hit a huge jump the other day and nearly broke my neck, but I didn't, so it was awesome. I'm totally going to have to get into it when I go home, I think it is the only activity I love as much as guns, haha. 

I have to say Joe and Davia look pretty great in their Prom picture. So does the lake. I can't wait to get back there, I miss Manson. Six months from today I'll be on my way. 

Welcome home Casey! My friend here can tell where Casey got his suit from in England, funny British people.

I'm tired of people not being able to say my name, so I now have "Elder Kelly" badges. It's pretty powerful, and most are jealous that I get to go by my first name. 

My Mission President told me to make a plan for when I get home.  I want with all my heart to go to university, but I just don't know how to get that done. I'm ignorant as to how to make that happen, and I don't have time on Mondays to figure it out either. I'm considering going into the Air Force, I'm waiting for a bit of feed back and advice from my brother though. Honestly, at the moment joining the Air Force is kinda at the front of my options. I've been praying a lot about it, and I feel quite good about it, but I haven't yet received the impression that I'm looking for. If I commit, that will be four more years at minimum that I'm not in control of my life, and I'd very much like Heavenly Father's assurance before I do such a thing. It is annoying, being poor as dirt kinda limits my options ha.

I'm tired of tracting and things. I'm going to start making cookies and such for people like the Sister missionaries do to see if that will get me anywhere. You should see if the Sisters in Chelan have any ideas that my small male brain can just not conceive. 

Love, Elder Kelly

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Xenophobia concerns in South Africa (letter from Mission President)

Dear Family and Friends of South Africa Johannesburg Missionaries:

I know that many of you are hearing various reports about the current civil unrest going on in isolated pockets of South Africa, and referred to in traditional and social media channels as "xenophobia." I also know that you are understandably concerned. My purpose today is to reach out to you and assure you that all missionaries are safe, are aware of the heightened political tensions and are taking all reasonable precautions. However, please be assured that this story has been overblown by the media, and the real threat to our missionaries safety and security remains minimal.

So you can understand the situation on the ground here, the violence against immigrants is mostly directed at Africans from neighboring countries who have come to South Africa for economic opportunities. Owing to their desperation, many of these immigrants work very hard and are very successful—much to the chagrin of other impoverished South African neighbors who scrape to get by in a country with a 40% unemployment rate.

The actual violence began two weeks ago in Durban, and has since spread to isolated pockets in and around Johannesburg's central business district (closed to all missionaries) and surrounding low-income townships. Because of a politically motivated shooting in the township of Alexandra yesterday, South African army troops were deployed today in Alexandra to support the local police. Though dramatic, the move was mostly seen as a show of force to further discourage some of the random and opportunistic crime (looting, burglary) which has been associated with the civil unrest. To be clear, the violence has been shocking with many people injured and seven people killed in the last two weeks.

From the outset the church's Area Security Team has been on top of this, monitoring hot spots and sharing that information with the Area Presidency and our mission leadership team. At this point, they have not requested any restrictions on our proselyting activities. In addition to our professional security, local members—who are always concerned about our missionaries—are monitoring neighborhood situations and warning our missionaries of any potential dangers long before they erupt. Because our missionaries do not watch local news, I have also been in contact with every missionary to make them aware of the simmering tensions and also urge them to be vigilant and report and potential trouble. Again, our leadership team will continue to watch this closely.

On a practical level I want you to know that life in Johannesburg feels very normal. Shops are open, people are on the street, and the work of the Kingdom is moving forward thanks to your amazing sons. Be assured that their safety remains my top priority. As such we will continue to monitor this situation closely and take all appropriate precautions should the centers of unrest begin to spread. Beyond this your prayers are always appreciated and helpful.

If you have specific concerns or there is anything else I can do, please let me know.

With my gratitude,
Michael A. Dunn, President
South Africa Johannesburg Mission

Monday, April 20, 2015

week 71

Yeah... So I typed a whole email and it just deleted itself. I pretty much hate everything. It only took 30 minutes to write.

I had a pretty good week. Taught some new people and such. South Africa is having some problems at the moment. They can't keep the power on because their systems are failing. Everyday the power goes out. Then a few weeks ago the Zulu king made a comment about kicking out all foreigners and now a lot of people are using it as an excuse to be stupid. They are burning shops and cars, stoning people in the streets. Luckily the crazies haven't gotten any closer then 30 kilos away from me. Also luckily (for me) they are focused on black foreigners at the moment. Hopefully this all goes away. Most think it will just stay black on black violence. 

On Tuesday we went to the Mission President's house for zone interviews. President Dunn spends about 15-20 minutes interviewing each person. We started off with a "service scavenger hunt" looking for service that we could do while the other Elders were being interviewed. I found some good opportunities in the kitchen...

I'm loving my area. It's pretty awesome, I'm 20 years old and I've been set loose in Africa! It leads to some pretty amazing times eh?

Anyways, now I'm out of time because I had to retype this. 

Love, Kelly

Monday, April 13, 2015

week 70: a birthday to remember

Let's see, I had the best birthday ever... basically. There was no cake... or food actually...but I went to the Temple in Joburg with Thabang (Thabang means happy) Mothata (the first person I ever baptized.) It was incredible, the session was full of people who came just to support him. Elder Brasher (my companion when I baptized him) was able to come, three senior couples came, and the Mission President also attended! It was amazing, it was edifying, it was fulfilling in every way. A day doesn't go by that I don't worry about those I have taught and baptized, but with him there is no worry. He is converted to the gospel. He loves Christ. He loves the gospel. I've never meet anyone like him. It's funny, I baptized him, yet I look up to him. I think I've said this before, but he alone has made the sacrifice of two years completely worth it, and everything else is just a bonus. He was once a totsie (gangster) and now he is a disciple of Christ. I'm not eloquent enough to put into words the degree of his change, but it has been extreme, and he did it in just one year. Amazing in my opinion. 

The rest of the week went pretty darn well. We are actually finding new people to teach! We got a white lady referred to us! In 17 months, that's the first white person that someone sent to us, haha. Powerful.

I put new tires on my bike which is nice... I love mountain biking! We have random trails throughout our area and I love riding them while going between appointments. Better yet, I haven't even crashed yet. I did however hurt my knee the other day, it was unfortunate. Hopefully it fixes itself in the next few days, I'd rather not go to the doctor. Doctors this side are scary at the best of times. 

Good news, I didn't almost die this week. I saw a guy getting mugged yesterday... but I decided it wasn't worth getting stabbed so I kept going. If it was a woman I totally would have helped. But yeah. I have less than 200 days left, and the idea of returning home in one piece becomes a bit sweeter every day. And yes, I fully realize I'm a bad person for not helping him, but 8 on 2 (my companion would just watch from afar...) is just not good odds. I miss my guns haha.

Love y'ah all lots. I'm starting to count the days till I get home. 

Elder McClellan

Monday, April 6, 2015

week 69

I haven't watched General Conference yet, what is this that I hear of my picture being shown in Priesthood Session? That's exciting. (Editor's note - a few years ago, a video was made that included Kelly's story. It came to the attention of the First Presidency of the Church, and was incorporated into a Mormon Message. You can watch it by clicking this link. One of the speakers showed a clip from the video during his Conference talk Saturday night.)

I had a pretty good week, got a new companion on Tuesday. His name is Elder Loveless; it is a bit like being with Dwight from the office, haha. 

We had another five less active members come to church! That was awesome. (I just realized it smells like urine in here... sometimes Africa is not so nice...)

Best news ever - I called Thabang, who I baptized over a year ago, and he is going to the temple on April 10th, which happens to be my birthday. In addition to that, I got permission to go with him, so basically it will be the best birthday ever.

I'm short on words this week. But yeah. Life is good. 

Love, Elder McClellan