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!

Letter 4/19/10


This week was a little slow. I've been doing really well.

Unfortunately Elder Pidun hasn't, he's been sick the last few days.

We've tried to keep working, but it's been difficult for him, especially since we're on bikes. Yet, even with his sickness, quite a few things happened this week.

The other day I went on Exchanges with Elder Van Der Swan, he's from Holland. He came out just six weeks before I did. I really enjoyed teaching with him. He's been a member of the church for 18 months and is the only member in his family. He knows the scriptures inside and out, it's probably because he spends every free minute reading them.

Right now I'm studying "Recognize the Spirit" in Preach My Gospel.

It's a fantastic manual. Every sentence seems so perfectly constructed.

I learn so much as I read.

You'll do wonders if you really study preach my gospel before your mission. It can greatly benefit even those who aren't planning to be missionaries in the near future.

I've been thinking a lot about inactive members. We have quite a few in this branch. The home and visiting teaching programs were just organized and we are praying that many less active members will return to church. I've never seen a Brach where the members have so many problems. In addition to personal problems, most of the members seem to have problems with each other. It was Joseph Smith that said, widespread criticism of our leaders is the only thing that could bring this church into apostasy.

Anyway, recently I was reading about spiritual gifts. I read the several accounts of the in the scriptures and was surprised to see how well those chapters relate to the problems of our branch. As I was reading Paul's account he talks about how everyone is given different gifts so that we can uplift and support each other. He describes the members as a body. He explains that the eye can’t tell the ear that it is of no need, similarly the head can't tell the foot to depart. When even one member of the body is lost we become crippled. At church we need everyone's unique talents gifts and abilities. We are really working to unify the branch. We are trying to hold monthly activities where members can serve together, invite their friends, and involve the less active members to return.

Next Sunday we are planning to have two baptisms. A mother and her 13 year old son. It's almost not even fair how much they have to go through. Many people in Klerksdorp are struggling with money.

Klerksdorp used to be a huge mining community, as the mines have shut down the town has suffered. Tsidi has a private business training nurses, the hospitals she works for are struggling and haven't been able to pay. On Sunday night she ran out of petrol coming to a member's home for one of the lessons before her baptism. Of course it was raining. Ourselves and Brother Jubber bought some petrol and went to bring it to her. She's been having some problems with her husband as well -they’ve been separated for a while.

Johan and his son (two recent converts) are moving. Johan found a job in Johannesburg. It was bitter sweet, he won't have to struggle for money anymore, but he's a big loss for our branch.

Currently we have about 40 at church. We're aiming to have 75 active members by the end of the year. If we're able to make 70 they'll begin building us a Chapel.

By the way, do you know how Ben Smith is doing? I heard there was an earthquake in Chile last month. Apparently in one of the Santiago missions the Mission President's wife had a vision about it and was able to help prepare everyone for it.

Well I'm about out of time again. I love being a missionary. In just these last few weeks I feel like I have grown so much. Thanks for your prayers!


Elder Keith Halterman

Members Are Key (4/12/10)

Hello again! Thanks for you letters and emails! I love reading them. I'll answer a few questions first:

Who is the senior companion?

I think President Poulsen has done away with Senior and Junior companion designations. I think it's because President Poulsen wants every missionary to step up and be a leader.

Are there any leaders that have been hard to follow?

Not yet, I've been amazed by the quality of our mission leadership. When I left Pretoria I doubted we could have a Zone leader that could compare with Elder Neist. As I came to Klerksdorp I was surprised to find that Elder Bohannon and Elder Smith are at the same level. They gave us some fantastic training at Zone conference

The week has been great! It's still slower than Mamelodi, but the work is picking up. It's not too difficult to find people who will let us in, I've been amazed by the number of families we are able to teach, we have found it difficult to return and teach them a second time. Somehow our appointments keep getting postponed to dates that we never seem to reach. The people are ready for the Gospel, we just need a to find a way to share it with them. This week it was clear more than ever that members are that key.

Brother Jackson, the Second counseler in the Branch, invited us to teach his nephew's family. It was one of the best lessons we'd ever taught! David and Ulanda had been having some problems and were thinking of separating. We met with Brother Jackson before hand to plan out what we would teach. After a little discussion he said that he felt that we should go ahead with the message of the restoration. As we taught the lesson the spirit testified so strongly. Brother Jackson often got carried away, after each question or principle he would summarize and add to what was said, but his love for them shined through so brightly. Ulanda and David both felt and, as we taught, they recognized the presence of the spirit. We were so grateful to be able to teach such a wonderful family. This was the first real referral from the branch that we'd had, we had been praying so fervently that the spirit would be there.

The husband had to work on Sunday, but the wife came with Brother Jackson's family to church. Brother Jackson was so excited to have his niece at church, he made sure that two sisters from the relif society joined our gospel principals class. David and Ulanda have a six month old daughter. Brother Jackson didn't want Ulanda to be distracted so he arranged for a sister of the Relief Society to take care of the baby. Lesson went really well. At one point a Relief Society sister brought back the baby as it had begun to cry. Ulanda soon realized it had a dirty diaper. As she stood up to go change it brother Jackson told her to stay and asked one of the other sisters to do it for her. Elder Pidun and I tried not to laugh. I'm convinced that Brother Jackson won't let anything get in the way of his family joining the church. It's amazing what difference it makes when a member invites a friend or family member to hear the gospel. They instantly have someone who will do everything possible to help them feel the spirit. I have little difficulty seeing why 80% of those who were invited by members to hear the gospel join the church. Whereas less than 5% make it when missionaries do the finding themselves.

Once again I'm out of time, I know that the work is true and I look forward to sharing more success stories next week.

I love you all,

Elder Halterman

Letter April 6, 2010

Hey everyone!

I hope not to scare you with the late email. Yesterday all the stores were closed due to the holiday weekend. People are on edge with the recent murder of Eugene Terreblanche (the lead political representative for the Africanners), but so far life has continued as normal.

It sounds like the trip to Navoo was amazing! I didn't know that the Church had done so much to build the area up. I can't wait to go when I return! I'd especialy love to see the temple. In our mission we normally attend the Johannesburg temple once a transfer (that's once every six weeks).

General conference sounds like it was spectacular! Conference is going to be shown in our chapels in three weeks - we are waiting for the DVD's to be sent out to each branch. A few members have BYU TV, but most are waiting till then. I am really excited, in the past missionaries could only watch 3 of 5 the sessions because of the time difference, since we won't be watching it live we'll get to see all 5. I'll pay close attention for the talk on patience and the talk on spiritual gifts.

Once again things are great! We are working hard with the Branch to create a Branch mission plan.

Even though we are constantly working with the branch we still do a lot of contacting. The stereotype in the mission is that white people won't listen, I've learned that it's completely false. I am amazed at how often people invite us in, after every 10 doors or so (well, gates technically) a family lets us in. The people of Klerksdorp are so ready for the Gospel, we just need to get the members excited to share it with others.

On Sunday evening we had a great lesson with Johan and his son Deacon about missionary work. We brought Brother Jubber and Brother Clive (our new ward mission leader). Johan is being well fellowshiped, he is one of the few in the branch that have no racial predujices. The lesson went really well. Johan loves fishing, Brother Jubber mentioned that he thought it no coincidence that the Lord chose fishermen to be his disiples. After the lesson Johan gave Brother Clive one of the fish he had caught. It was huge! 5kgs! Johan said that it was about the average size. We've been looking for activities to unify the branch and for people to invite friends to, a father and son fishing trip would be perfect! Johan has 16 rods and plenty of supplies, I'm really excited. This will be a great chance for Johan to really become a part of the branch and for the Elders to become more excited about the Church. We are also planning to put on another "Music in the Spoken Word" program at the beginning of May. It sounds like President Poulsen will come out to see it. We are really excited to begin having meaningful branch activities where members can begin inviting their friends!

The work is going really well. We have three appointments this evening, one of them is especially promising.

In two weeks we'll have another baptism, it will be for a mother and her son.

Thanks for your prayers and support!


Elder Keith Halterman

Klerksdorp (3/29/10)

Hello Everyone!

Thanks for the Emails. I look forward to getting your letters to hear more!

Once again I have quite a bit to say. It feels like it's been forever since last weeks email. I'm in Klerksdorp now. It's a great place. It was really hard to leave Mamelodi behind though. Each appointment seemed to completely drain me. It reminded me of when I met Elder Bakker (The missionary that I replaced im Mamelodi) at the Christmas party, the first thing he said was "you take care of that branch", I could tell it meant a lot to him. I never understood how he really felt untill I was passing the Branch on to someone else. It made me think about how much we are trusted not only by the last missionary or by our Mission President, but by Heavenly Father. Its really makes you think of the sacred trust we have to take care of each other.

Klerksdorp has just been split. Elder Pidune (from Hamburg, Germany) and I serve in the Town and Elder Torr (from Durban SA) and Elder Ndillango (from Kenya) serve in the Township. Most of the work was being done in the township so our teach pool only consists of two families. Towns are normaly very difficult to teach in. In the next two transfers we will be loosing about a dozen Elders, meaning several areas are going to have to merge, Elder Pidune and I are determined to keep four Elders in Klerksdorp. Our Branch is very small, we have 40 active members. The Branch has quite a few issues to sort out, most of it stems from a social divide between the Africanners and the Africans. The hometeaching and visiting teaching programs collapsed a while back, they are just about to start them up again. Many of the Members of our branch have been members for 40 years, sadly a number of them no longer feel the need to serve or to change. The Sacroment meetings are interesting as well, the first talk was by a YSA on the "Dominion Mandate", it seemed like he had gone online to look for a talk, it was about how the church was not living up to the commandment that Adam was given to have dominion over the Earth. So as you can see there's a lot of work to do, but I am very excited. In my Mamelodi we had so much work to do that it was difficult to corelate our finding efforts with the Members. Here I'll have the chance to work side by side with the branch. We have some of the best members I've ever met on our side. They just called a branch mission leader, he is recently returning from inactivity, but he is very bright and very determined to make the branch what it should be. We live nextdoor to Brother Jubber and his family, the 1st counsler in the Branch. He is a retiered concert pianist. When he isn't teaching piano lessons he's out visting less active members of the branch. He's lived in Klerksdorp for at least 30 years and knows almost everyone. We talk to him almost every day, he is a great strength and is very willing to help. In the five days I've been here he's come out with us once and given us two referals!

His daughter is equaly as helpful. On Sunday the branch had it's first baptism in several years. It was for a man named Johan and his 9 year old son. Sister Jubber is the primary president, she heard about the baptism and volunteered all her asistance. The baptismal service was the best I'd ever seen. She organized programs, refreshments, a musical number, and even gave a talk wecoming Decon (Johan's son) to the branch. We're really hoping the the baptismal service will stir the branch's excitment to share the gospel.

Elder Pidune and Elder Torr have done a great job as well. Right before I came they worked with Brother Jubber to put on a miniature "Music in the Spoken Word" with spiritual thoughts between each musical number. It was a huge success. They had over 50 non-members attend! We're hopping to plan another one for the end of April. The Branch members really loved it and are looking forward to the next one.

Well i wish I could say more, but I'm out of time once again.

I love you all,

Elder Keith Halterman

Adventures in Transit (3/22/10)

Hey Everyone!

Thanks for you emails, and for your concern. I made it through the riots - they've moved to Johannesburg now. The Taxi drivers are rioting, they don't want the new bus system to succeed since more busing means taxis will have to lower their prices or go out of business.

Elder Sicotte and I have had some fun biking the past few days. The Car has been fixed from several weeks back, this time it was the Elders in West. Friday evening they sent us a message announcing that they were going to drive to the mission office, meaning we would have to bike back to the flat. It's about a 9 mile trip. The other Elders had biked the last 6 miles in 30 min a week or two before, we wanted to beat their time. The trip was was exhausting, it was uphill almost the whole way! We didn't let up though, every time I began to slow Elder Sicotte would push past me untill he'd wear out and I'd push past him. I'm pleased to say that we made the trip in under 45 min! The next morning the Elders in west had to leave a 6am to go on a hike with the youth in their branch, they planned to be back before 10. It didn't work out so we biked back in the morning, luckily it was downhill and took about 30 min. I think if we keep it up I'll be able to fulfill Elder Holland's wish that each missionary work so hard that he has to be carted directly to an ambulance after the plane ride home.

On Saturday I found out that I'm being transfered to Klerksdorp 2. I've been in Mamelodi for 4 1/2 months, so it was about my time. Elder Sicotte is going to train a new Elder (we have 21 coming into the mission). Reality didn't hit me until we visited Sister Mogaswa and told her the news. Every time I visit her family my heart melts. I don't think I'm overly emotional, but I was almost in tears. I bore my testimony that I knew the Lord's work is inspired. I knew I was supposed to meet her family in Mamelodi and now I need to be elsewhere. I am so grateful that I was able to work with so many wonderful people. I'm really excited for the Branch. We're just finishing the branch mission plan, the auxiliaries are now involved in correlation. We have quite a few recent converts and ward missionaries that are helping with the work - on their own they are going to visit less active members and visit recent converts. We have a plan for the Home Teachers to instate a family mission plan with each family in the ward. We have 18 people preparing for baptism, and many more that are ready for baptismal dates! As I've said, the work in Mamelodi is exploding, yet it's about to go up another level. As you can guess, I wasn't very excited for transfers. Not until I found out that I'm going to be companions with Elder Pidune. He's one of the Elders from my MTC group! He's a dedicated missionary who came out from Germany. It's still going to be really hard to leave Mamelodi, but I am excited for the work we'll do in Klerksdorp.

The last few days have been pretty crazy, as to be expected everyone wants us to stop by before I leave. I was wondering why they wait to give us transfer news until 4 days before transfers, I think it's so we don't spend the two weeks counting down the days till we leave. Overall, things are going pretty well. I have loved serving in Mamelodi and the time has flown by. I hear that the time only continues to move faster as mission moves. Thanks for all the prayers and support! I'll make sure to let you know how Klerksdorp 2 is in my next email.

Thato (Love),

Elder Keith Halterman

Letter March 8, 2010


I feel like I've run out of adjectives to describe how well the week went.

We've had so many people to teach that Elder Sicotte and I had to go on splits with the ward missionaries almost every other day. On the "other" days we had a temple trip and two exchanges! The exchanges were to interview Karabo Tshabalala, the one who teaches me new things each time we teach him, and an investigator in Mamelodi West for baptism! They're both more than ready and will be baptized next week. On one of the Exchanges I went with Elder Niest, one of the Pretoria Zone Leaders. It was fantastic! He's from Austrialia, he took off two years from the military to serve a mission. He's truly an amazing missionary. A month or two back I wrote about an exchange with him where I felt completely blown away by his teaching - as if I was re-learning the gospel. He's still that fantastic, only this time I felt so much more prepared to learn. I was more sure of myself and knew what to look for in teaching. I really learned a lot. I feel like it was much clearer to see how I can improve myself as a missionary.

Fast Sunday was definitely another hi-light of the week!

Sacrament meeting was fantastic! It was well attended by the people we've been teaching. During the Testimony meeting Sherifah, one of our recent converts, bore her testimony. A combination of several things, including the freezing baptismal font, caused her to fall very ill. She had been in the hospital last week. She's almost completely recovered. Her testimony was so heartfelt and so strong - she has the testimony stronger than many of those who have been members all their lives. It was really moving.

During the second hour Lebo Msiza, our branch Mission leader, taught a fantastic lesson on missionary work. He does a great job making everyone feel welcome and in turning the class into a discussion. It really impressed upon the investigators and recent converts the urgency of sharing the message of the restoration. It really hit me when he asked how many of the class had shared a testimony this week. Only a handful had. I wondered to myself if I wasn't a missionary would I have been able raise my hand. I think we often forget how important it is to share our testimonies with others - even if they are members.

Priesthood meeting was even better. President Hlongwane, the Elders quorum president, taught a combined class about home teaching. He had everyone sit in their companionships. He then called up a few and asked them questions about each other. It was surprising how little each companion knew about the other. He then called Elder Sicotte and me up. Thankfully Sister Jensen had just done this excersise with us a week back, we were able to answer the questions really well. He then asked us to share what unity in a companionship can do. He asked everyone to share something new their companion. He then talked about the importance of working in unity to help the families you visit. We need to understand their interests, hopes, desires and ambitions. He said that at the beginning of the year he and his companion sat down with each family they taught and went over the goals each member of the family had for the year. By doing so they learned a great deal about each family. They now not only knew how how to help them, but what to pray for and what to focus on each time they teach. He counseled everyone that their prayers should be specific for needs and that each lesson should be tailored to the family. Our branch has been blessed with some great leaders, they do a great job bringing the Branch together. I have a feeling that home teaching is going to skyrocket in the near future.

Yikes, I'm about out of time! I want to mention that we have just started teaching an awesome new family! Lukas and Anna Mafako, they have two son. Thato who's 14 and Gift who's 6. We taught them the message of the restoration and they all felt the spirit! They have been so well prepared to hear the gospel! When we first arrived we were a little disappointed to see that only the father and son were around (it's pretty normal to only have part of the family). Right after the opening prayer the mother walked in. She was shocked to see us (it wasn't supposed to work out that day) one of the father's friends had tired to cancel our visit, fortunately we had forgotten the phone at the flat. Anyway, we soon found out that Lukas had recently deiced that he wanted to be the best possible father to his family (in a township that's very rare, most families are a single mother with several children). Needless to say we taught with a strong emphasis on the temple. They were all so excited! I can't wait to see them again!

We'll I'm out of time again. Missionary work just keeps getting better! I'm glad to hear that everyone is doing so well.

All the best,

Thato (Love in Zulu),

Elder Keith Halterman

Letter 3/1/10

Thanks for all the wonderful emails! It was the best present to have so much good news! It's great to hear so much news from the family. I received the birthday package on Friday! Thanks so much! I have to admit that I opened the tie a day early so that I could wear it to Stake Conference. I loved reading the notes and opening presents! Thanks

It's been almost ten days since I've written and I have tons to share, I really hope that I can get to all of it. It's going to make it a little difficult because my spacebar isn't really working.

This week has been packed with great speakers. We had Zone Activity, Zone conference, Stake Conference and next week our zone is going to the Temple! I feel like I've learned more in the last ten days than I can ever hope to apply.

At zone conference we focused a lot on teaching families and working with the members. President Paulsen gave us some truly amazing counsel on developing Character. President Paulsen used some amazing examples. He talked about a time when he was working for American Express and they asked to let go several people in his department. They explained that they had conducted internal audit which involved in depth accounting off everything in the company, the purpose was to check the integrity of everyone in the company. They checked expense accounts, time reports, even the rates of stationary usage. Many people were let go, others faced disciplinary action. His report was cleaner that any they'd seen before. As a result he was trusted with more and more. His career skyrocketed because they could trust him. When President Paulsen was asked to be a mission president was the CEO of American Express. Heavenly Father sees everything we do, when he is able to trust us he will bless us with greater opportunities. It is equally important to gain the trust of our ward, investigators, and fellow missionaries.

The Spirit was very strong, we all felt the desire to gain the Lord's trust and work to become spectacuar missionaries. At the end of President Paulsen's last address, Elder Niest (the Zone Leader) stood up and bore his testimony. He talked about the trust a family had for him and his companion. Just a week ago the Husband had been shot by a stray bullet (a drunk man was walking in a field shooting his gun - please don't worry about my safety, thigs like that are very rare) The first call the wife made was to him. (I was there when he revived the call, we were on the way to Ralph's baptismal interview) He talked about the amazing trust that can and should be built between the investigators and the missionary. He then read scripture from James telling us to be doers of the word and not hearers only. He opened the floor for us to state what we were going to change to become better missionaries.

Stake conference was equaly as great. We had some amazing talks, the topics were Love, The Atonement, and Repentance. We met at the University of South Africa (It's the only place big enough for the Stake to meet) The Campus was amazing, everything looked brand new. The school was huge, from a distance the school literal looked like a Star Destroyer from star wars (I'll have to get a picture if I ever go back)

Once again I'm out of time. Things are great and continue to get better! I love being a missionary and I love serving the Lord. I had a lot more I was hopping to say, but I'll have to save it for another time. It does give me a chance to leave you with a challenge, look up Election in the Bible dictionary and think about what it means about yourself in pre-existence as well as your responsibilities in this life.

I love you all! Thanks again for all of you prayers and support! I know that we being greatly blessed! Have a great week!


Elder Keith Halterman