I am currently serving as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Johannesburg, South Africa Mission! I plan to serve for two years before returning home to finish my education.

I am serving a mission because I know that God is our loving Father in Heaven. I have a testimony that he knows each of us personally and wants us to succeed. The gospel Jesus Christ leads to lasting happiness. The fullness of his Gospel exists on the Earth today and I want to help spread the joyous news!

If you are reading this and don't know for yourself I plead with you to learn more. You can gain a personal witness that the Gospel has been restored! Visiting http://mormon.org is a great way to start!

I miss you all and would love to hear from you! See you in two years!

Professor Slughorn's Luck Potion

Hey everyone!

We're having a Zone activity on Monday so we're taking some time out of our district meeting to email a little early this week.

Soon after sending my last email I realized that it would have been better titled "A breath taking week" (feel free to re-read it with the new title). If you can imagine it, this week has been even better! Our Schedule has been packed with appointments, even more than when I first arrived here. We have to go on splits twice a week because we can’t possibly see everyone on our own. The last few days it’s really been clear that the Lord is guiding our work. Very few of our appointments have canceled and in many other cases we’ve been guided to the right place at the right time – we’re never idle. Wednesday morning Elder Sicotte and I looked at hour schedule and honestly had no idea how it would work. In our prayer we asked for heaven’s guidance. The answer was amazing, we saw everyone we wanted too, and many more - the day went perfectly. It felt like we’ve been given a drop of the Luck potion in the Harry Potter series that brings you success in all your endeavors. Elder Sicotte and I have really felt guided by the spirit.

In contrast, a worker broke into our flat on Wednesday and stole mine and Elder Stodmeister’s camera. He also took of with and about $100 in Rand from Elder Hatch and me. It must have been an after effect of our great success. Don’t worry about me though. Nothing was destroyed, and we still feel pretty safe. I can see that Heavenly Father has been watching out for me. Just the morning before they broke in I sent off a picture CD with most of the pictures I’d taken so I think I’ve only permanently lost a few (It should arrive in 3 to 4 weeks). I think the Lord has taken this chance to help me learn a lesson. When I first realized that my camera was missing it weighed on me for most of the day. I tried not to let it get to me, but it seemed to loom over every free thought. I fervently prayed that somehow it would return. At the end of the day I thought about what I was doing, in my prayers I had been more concerned for a camera than I had been for people I teach. I realized that my most fervent prayers should be for the people I serve and love to accept the gospel and find joy in their lives. I feel the worst for Elder Stodmeister, he lost all his pictures from the last 3 months, but even he is getting over it. Pictures are temporal; memories are eternal and we’ll be able to look back on them with the people we served for eternity.

This week is looking to be the best I’ve ever had. We’re expecting loads of people at church on Sunday. More people have committed to coming to church than any other week. Afterwards we’ll have Ralph Zirah’s baptism. The Car is still acting up, in fact it’s become much worse. The fumes aren’t bad, but it’s performing very poorly. We took it in last Monday but they couldn’t find the problem, after we finish we’re going to take it to another garage.

Also, myLDSmail is upgrading, the church had been working with Google to make better accounts. Do you have my LDS account username? I think it’s saved on the laptop. I’ll let you know if my email address changes- but don’t worry, they’ll forward all my mail to the new account.

Have a great week!
Elder Keith Halterman

Spiritual Highs

Happy Valentines Day!

I really enjoyed reading your emails this week! They were all so motivating. It sounds like Dad gave a fantastic talk! I’m excited to use some of his points in my future talks. It sounds like Sam and Andy are pretty popular. I received the letter from the Seminary class this week! It was fun to hear from everyone!

I’m in great health, I’m still at 165lbs.

Thanks for the addresses too! Does Ben have a mailing address for Chile? We have to send letters in envelopes and the pouch won’t accept them that way.

We have two places we can email, at the regular place we can’t print, but at the other we can. It’s a large internet cafĂ© (it’s very old).

I mentioned I’d let you know which ways the toilets flush. It’s hard to tell. When you flush it unleashes a cascade of water, it looks like a miniature Niagara. By the time the water settles the toilet has flushed, there’s no time to see which way the water is swirling.

Once again this week was packed with things to write about! I really hope that I can get to most of them.

Elder Sicotte was hit by a car yesterday. Don’t be alarmed, he’s alright and biking is normally safe. We were riding to an appointment after church and a driver pulled out of his driveway without looking. Elder Sicotte slammed right into it. He flew of his bike and over the hood. He landed on his feet, but was pretty shaken up. He was seeing stars for the first fem minuets; thankfully he was wearing a helmet. He has several bruises, after resting for a few minutes we were able to continue with our day. The car and bike didn’t fair as well. The bike needs some repairs, and the car had a huge dent. He pounded it pretty hard, we had to push the car a ways before it would start again.

Speaking of cars, when the other Elder came to pick us up Saturday night we thought they were drunk. We just seen several cars of crazy people go by, then we saw a blue car with all the windows down and some crazy guy leaning out the window shouting to us. It was Elder Stodmeister and Elder Hatch It turned out that our car has a leak somewhere causing the interior to reek of sheer gasoline; they were pretty delirious from the fumes. We’re taking the car in today.

The work is going great! We have a baptism for a young adult named Ralph this Sunday. We found several new families that are really excited to hear the Gospel. One family was so excited that the father asked us if we would help him build a church in the open space behind his house where everyone in the area could hear the message of the restoration. We explained to him about the importance of priesthood leaders, but that the Church will continue to grow and one day there may be a church in his neighborhood.

I’ve been amazed by many of the people we are teaching. Just yesterday we were teaching a young adult named Karrabo. He’s preparing to be baptized during the first week of March. Every time we visit he amazes me with his understanding. He understands the Gospel of Jesus Christ so well. Each time we teach him a principal he re-explains it to us better than we taught it and asks if he understands it correctly. He’s often difficult to teach because he talks 70% of the time, but I leave each lesson with a better understanding and perspective of the Gospel. It reminds me of something they taught us in the MTC – When you are listening to an investigator you are listening to the spirit. Elder Sicotte and I have found that it’s true. We don’t have to be speaking the whole time since we know exactly what we need to share when we speak.

Karrabo will be a great strength to Branch. When we first taught him the Word of Wisdom he gave up smoking on the spot. For a while he’s been afraid of baptism – he was afraid that he might turn back to old ways. After teaching about repentance he tied it into the gift of the Holy Ghost after baptism and explained how the spirit will guide our continual repentance and refinement preparing us for the Kingdom of heaven.

Once again I’m out of time. The week has been great. I’m thankful for your constant prayers! My testimony is continually increasing and my reliance on with the spirit has grown so much. Have a great week!

Elder Halterman


Thanks for all the great emails. I figured that I wouldn't get many emails during the move, but I was surprised when I had so many today! It brought a smile to know that everything has gone really well. I'm excited to hear that the whole family is already fitting in! It sounds like Minnesota is perfect for our family! I’ll keep our house in NJ in my prayers. A few questions to ask and answer: What is our new address? Do you know Ben Smith’s mission address? (it should be on his blog)

Do you have any memories of FHE?
The most prominent ones are of Dad sending the younger kids on missions around the house while we had a lesson. Also the memories of playing fruit basket upset. I know that FHE made a huge difference – it’s one of those small and simple things that brought our family together.

It’s blessed me in that I am familiar with stories from the scriptures. I think a lot of it comes from our family scripture studies and home evenings. The other day a recent convert asked about the real birthday of Jesus Christ, I think it was completely new to Elder Sicotte that it was April 6th (I think it’s D&C 20:1, the instructing Joseph Smith about how to organize the church).

I do clearly remember the first time I read from the Pearl of Great price. For FHE the older kids went with Dad and the younger ones did an activity with Mom. I really felt the spirit and really learned as we read and asked questions.

Do you notice a change in seasons?
Yes. We just came out of the rainy season into summer. The temperature hasn’t changed very much, it’s always been hot, but it doesn’t rain anywhere near as much as before. It was raining almost every day. The storms are huge too - Bigger than hurricanes in Texas. I’ve never seen as much lightning as I have here.

Do the toilets flush in the opposite direction? (clockwise or counter clockwise, not up vs. down)
Good question, I haven’t noticed, but I’ll make note and let you know next week. On that subject, the plumbing for our Chapel broke on Saturday after the Mamelodi West Elders used the Chapel for a baptism. One of the pipes outside began spewing out sewage. It was pretty gross, no one else was around so we had to turn off the pump for the drains and call a plumber. They came that evening, but soon found it was too big of a job to complete that day. On Sunday we had caution tape all around that side of the chapel. Fortunately it had rained that night and washed away most of the sewage. What a blessing!

We’re running pretty low on time. I’m sorry that this Email hasn’t told you much. The week has been great. We’ve had a lot of success. A lot has happened, but off the top of my head there isn’t a lot of new things to tell about. We received transfer news yesterday- My district is remaining the same, and there were only two changes in the Zone. I am excited to see the work continue to progress. I love being a missionary. Thanks for all of your prayers, know that you are in mine. Have a wonderful week!

Elder Keith Halterman

The Fantastic Adventures of Fantastic Mr. H. with Liver and Litchi Nuts

Hey everyone! I've had yet another awesome week. We had two Baptisms this Sunday; Sister Moghaswa and her daughter Renileway were baptized! Yet again the water was ice cold (we're still waiting to get a new water geyser), but the Holy Ghost was there so strongly!

For me the most moving part of the Baptism was when Sister Moghaswa bore her testimony. She said that she had been taught by the missionaries a long while back but wasn't ready. Later on she went thought many trials, including the death of her husband. Then two months back Sister Modisha (Her Friend and member of our branch) confronted her and asked why she always seemed so sad. Sister Modisha then invited her to church, telling of how much it has helped in her own life. Sister Moghaswa said that she didn’t know why she decided to come, but was so glad that she did. At church she felt like all her pains were lifted. For once she felt peace. After that everything began to fall into place.

It was really funny when she mentioned the missionaries - “I’m so grateful that Elder...” she paused, “in my home we call him Elder H. since we can't pronounce his name (Most people refer to me Elder H), and Elder Robinson came and taught me about God’s plan of happiness for us.”

It’s amazing how much a simple invitation to come to church can do for someone. For Sister Moghaswa, it changed her life. It made me realize that we should never be afraid to invite others to hear our message – you may get turned down a few dozen times, but if you never open your mouth you’ll miss pearls like Sister Moghaswa and her family. There are people out there who are ready, who desperately need the gospel, they are just waiting for an invitation.

This week I tried two new foods: Liver and litchi nuts. I thought liver was alright at first, when the member found out it was my first time eating liver her only comment was “please don’t puke”. I’m glad that she didn’t ask me how it tasted after I was several bites in since it had quickly become old – I’m going to have to get used to that one. On the other hand litchi nuts she fed us were pretty good, that is if you peel them first. In naivety I took a bite while the skin was still on, it didn’t taste too great. Life became much better when I realized that you peel them first. It’s a shame we don’t have litchi nuts in the US.

In other news, the first presidency is re-aligning the boundaries to our mission. Our mission is one of the largest in the world, we constantly receive more and more missionaries (Currently we have 225 missionaries). The Durban mission is taking over Lesotho and Bloemfontein and the missionaries in those areas are being reassigned to the Durban Mission. It doesn’t affect me very, but it means that I probably won’t serve in Lesotho.

Things are looking brighter for the Shiba family – They are the family who became confused about Mormon and Mammon. We have since taught Boysen, Grace’s fiancĂ©. He also really felt the spirit during our lesson and even came to Church. The rest of the family is still stone cold, they won’t let us through the door, but I have hopes that through Boysen we can resolve the family’s concerns.

Thank you for all of your prayers! I can see that we are really being blessed! The other day an investigator asked about our lives as missionaries. After hearing that we serve for two years she asked “But don’t you want to reach your dreams?” Elder Sicotte and I looked at each other and in agreement said that this is our dream. I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything. In just three months I’ve seen more lives change than I could have seen in a lifetime. I would never forfeit the chance to meet and grow in the gospel alongside the wonderful people we are teaching. I am so grateful that I have this chance to serve a mission!

I love you all,

Elder Halterman

An African Ensemble

Hey Everyone!

First, I have a question to answer:

What do you think of your mission president?

President Poulsen is a fantastic mission president. He is overwhelmingly positive and optimistic; somehow when he rebukes the mission he does it with a smile. He cracks down on disobedience, but does it lovingly, he almost guilts people into working their hardest. He is very intelligent, and leaves you wanting to be the best you can. He has done wonders for the mission.

Also, there's supposed to be pictures from our mission on www.johannesburgmission.googlepages.com I'm not sure if there are many of me though.

This week went really well with the exception of a few more bike problems. Once again a lot happened. I hope that I can write all I want to, but we'll see.

On Thursday my companion went to do interviews in Mamelodi West so Elder Hatch came to my area for the day. In the morning we had two spectacular lessons! We were not sure what to share at either of them, but after talking with our investigators it became pretty clear. It reminded me of what one of my MTC teachers said. When you take time to listen to your investigators you are not only listening to them, you are also listening to the spirit. Both lessons seemed to flow perfectly; they all covered exactly what these people needed to hear. It's amazing how the Lord guides and leads people to understand what is most important for them.

After those two lessons we had to bike from one end of our area to another. Most of it was uphill. It was a grueling journey. Along the way Elder Hatch crashed into a man that was trying to cross the street. Common sense isn't common here. The man was trying to beat the cars across the road and literally jumped in front of Elder Hatch. People often run out into the road without looking. Most of the time they stop midway and panic or run back. Both Elder Hatch and the man were fine. The guy had been knocked to the ground. We gave him a pass along card.

Before our next appointment we stopped to visit several of the people we've been teaching. We made contact with a lot of people.

We then had our lesson with the Shiba family. We had taught them once before, the spirit had come very strongly, the mother and sister had been in tears last time. We soon found that all was not well. The mother had been terrified to read the Book of Mormon. Many people get confused and think it's another translation of the Bible. When she realized that there were different prophets in it she thought of Matthew 6:24 and had Mammon confused with Mormon. Elder Hatch tried to explain, I think the mother understood, but there were several new people there that just became more confused. When he saw the confusion he tried to explain more, but soon one of the older daughters stopped him and asked if we could pray right then. Of course we agreed. Big mistake.

She stood up and began to sing. "Praise the Lord" The others all stood and joined in. Elder Hatch and I didn't know what to do. We stood, but I could hardly keep from laughing. They were all singing the chorus while the one girl shouted "Hallelujah!" I decided the best thing to keep me from laughing was to join them - at least to hum. It went on for a while, then the singing ended and they all broke into separate prayers. It was really confusing. Some of them were really into it. I'm pretty sure that one of them blessed every corner of the house and rebuked every devil within the three blocks surrounding. I silently prayed that we could find a way to bring in the spirit. After they finished - it took a long time. I asked if Elder Hatch and I could sing a song, we sang ‘Redeemer of Israel.’ I then asked if we could pray, we all knelt down and I offered one of the most fervent prayers I have ever offered- I did not want to lose this family. I don't know what's going to happen, but we left them feeling the Spirit. After that we had several more good lessons, but I'm about out of time and I want to talk about what happened this Sunday.

On Sunday, Elder Koelliker of the Seventy and the Stake President came to our branch. They both spoke during the third hour in a combined meeting. They both lead incredible discussions. The spirit was very strong. Elder Koelliker gave many great insights. He wanted everyone to learn to apply what they read in the scriptures. We went through Matthew 10 - the Story of the young man who asked Christ what he needed to do to go to heaven, and Nephi 8 - Lehi's vision. He spoke about personal testimony, also the first four principals of the gospel.

He talked about the three most sacred places - the Home, the Chapel, and the Temple. He said that we must use the Celestial room of the temple as a pattern for our homes. At the end he invited everyone to do two things: To find patterns for their lives in the Scriptures, and do everything necessary to visit the Temple. We had 16 investigators there for it! After church one new investigator asked me how long it would take before he could be baptized. The Stake president had also given a very good talk about the sacrament, and about the importance of being on time to church.

Well my time has run out, I'm sorry for the poor explanation above. This week has been amazing and I know that I've really been blessed.

I can't wait to write more next week!

I love you all,

Elder Halterman