This week has really been another adventure and a great learning experience. I've spent most of my time with Elder Palmer going on a lot of splits, to cover or huge area. I find myself also becoming very well known in this township and getting to know a lot about it. My week can be melted down to three major things: Splits with Elder Palmer, trying to think about how I can describe a shack, and our wonderful fasting experience we had yesterday. It's been another week of service and the Lord never disappoints in adventures.
So, we've been in a threesome as missionaries for the past few weeks and this week we put it to use. Our area is roughly the size of Utah County, maybe a bit smaller, but nearly the same. It holds not only Katlehong (a township), but four other townships. We pick up a ward missionary to divide and conquer. This has been a huge blessing to me, because lately I can't really stand Elder Bangerter. Thus by going on splits we all keep our heads and don't kill each other. It's wonderful to go along with Elder Palmer who is almost exactly like dad. We laugh all the time and pull jokes like no one’s business. Our investigators also feel our brotherhood, and constantly want us over to laugh and teach them. I found out this week that you need to relax enough to be yourself, but still watch the rules so you don't fall on your face! Balance is a funny thing to work out. :)
I've been thinking a lot this week on how I can describe life here in the township. During apartheid, the blacks were made to live in these townships to be divided from the whites. It's a very poor area with a lot of loose dogs, pigs, cows, goats, a million chickens, and a billion rats the size of cats. All these animals dig through garbage that is all over the place. There are so many diseases, Yikes! In the more developed areas, there are cinder block houses that we call RDP homes. They are built by the government for free. They have an outhouse with running water and power What these people do is give space at the back of a home which may contain 2-4 sheet metal shacks. They charge rent to the people that stay there and use that as a source of income. The shacks however are no bigger than our kitchen or Jillian’s old room! They are very small to a big boy like me. They fill it with everything a regular home has, but it's extremely low living. A squatter camp is just a place that is very dirty, covered in shacks, and basically has no power and one water pump for a huge section.
A lot of these people's situations could be a lot better if they had a decent education. Education here is very low and many drop out. The Afrikaners really screwed themselves when they withheld education from these people. Many turn to worldly lusts to live their lives: drinking a lot, smoking, drugs, and a lot of moral sins. It's a very sad place when you look at it and your heart wants to give these people the knowledge of how they can make it all better. The problem is many love where they are. Satan is very strong on their hearts here, but you can find those families and people from all the smog: the diamonds in the rough.
That is what happened yesterday as we fasted. :) Our fast this Sunday was for a brother of ours to quit smoking and for Elder Palmer and I to be helped in our diet. What we didn't know was how Heavenly Father wanted us to have a lot more because of our fasting state. We had another full house at church (which is in a school) with a ton of investigators who bore amazing testimonies that really pull your heart. These people suffer through so much here and have it really hard, but they pull through because of the gospel. The whole Sunday was full of us visiting many investigators, giving many blessings to the sick, and once again going on splits. Our last appointment however made my weak. I was with Elder Palmer and we were on our way to visit a sister who is 20 named Tumi (Too-me). She wanted her family and grandparents to know what she does, and has been working on them for a long time. We thought we were going into another RDP house, but in turned out it was the most beautiful house I've seen since the start of mission. Plus to our surprise there was a huge family gathered around. About five were there plus two more that would join us next week. They are all an older family: The grandparents, then the kids in their mid or later twenties. They were so ready for our message and polite to us. It was a testimony that there are people that are made ready by angels!
It sounds like summer is coming to an end on that side. Kind of crazy to think how the true African heat is just around the corner for me.
I love you all so much and loved hearing about girl’s camp! I'm sure that was a blast!
Be happy and pray often :)
Love your Son and Brother :)
Elder Jack Forrest Dalton
ALWAYS FORWARD SOUTH AFRICA