Guest Testimonies

Monday, December 23, 2013

"We felt the love that Heavenly Father has for ALL of his children"

Hello everybody!!
Aesh (eye-shh): a very common exclamation used just like "jeeze", "whoa" or "oh boy"
Yo (yo): another exclamation to show disbelief
YO! I can’t believe I’ve already been here a month already!! Haha if it keeps flying by like this I think I might miss my whole mission!! Haha 2 years is nothin:) So I have a whole week’s worth of stories to tell but I want to start by saying I love you all very much and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!! It's weird having summer for Christmas but I’ll get used to the short sleeve shirts:) haha Well I guess I’ll start with the funny experience I had right after I emailed last Monday. So Elder Matos and I went shopping right? We got our groceries and went to go into another shop when we locked the car (manually, no auto locks) and he says "wait! The keys are still in there!" Yup, the keys were in there. In the ignition too! Yup, the car was still running.. Haha Elder Matos' Venezuelan currency doesn’t work here either so he only has his allotment card and that isn’t very much haha So guess who got to pay the locksmith R950 rand to come unlock the car? Yours truly!! Haha it’s all good though, considering I’ve done it to myself and been considerably embarrassed. Needless to say, I could understand my companion’s feelings and we got thru it safely:) So a little more about South Africa: people here are even more diverse than in the US! People from DRC, Zim, Malawi, etc all come here! In fact, I wish I would have learned a little more French from my dad and it would have come in handy! We’re teaching this guy, Angelo, from DRC and we gave him a French Book of Mormon and his eyes lit up as he said, "I’m going to read this now!" the work is great here! People, including myself, are so humbled by their circumstances that the message of the gospel and hope for eternal happiness really gets to people’s hearts here in a way different than back in Utah. Maybe it’s because everyone knows about the Mormons.. Who knows!? All I know is it’s great to be here! A little hectic sometimes and weird food but its great!! All great except the sight of five or six 12-year-old boys drinking beer in the street, not being able to stand because they are drunk :( It is a different world here for sure!
So on Friday I had an exchange with Elder Nilsen, one of our ZL. He is an awesome kid! I definitely made a friend and he told me I was an amazing missionary because I follow the rules. Haha I laugh because the rules are the only sense of comfort I really have here; knowing they’ll keep me safe. "Well if that’s what it takes then I’ll keep on doing it!" I told him. He is really powerful and I wish I could be his companion next transfer but his airplane is only 50 days away. Haha so for those of you who don’t know that I can’t drive a stick shift, I can’t. Or at least, couldn’t, until Friday haha. Elder Nilsen can’t and so since I kind of know how it works, I had the advantage and luckily we're doing the Lord’s work because the angels pushed our car from our flat to our area!! Haha I went from not knowing how to drive a manual OR drive in SA (the opposite side of the road with crazy divers and taxis) to doing it all in one day! I’ll just say the adrenaline was flowing like crazy!!! Haha I don’t think I stopped praying the whole drive either!
Then Sunday we had a couple cool experiences! After sacrament, the Joburg 1 elders were sick and left so Elder Matos and I got to direct 2 saving ordinances!! A little 8 year old girl in the ward, Chani Gombo, was baptized and confirmed a member of the church by her father! It was very cool to be a part of and it is one of my "gold nuggets" that I will store away (that’s for you Bro. Cooper.) Then, that evening we had two appointments fall through so Elder Matos and I went to Rhoddes Park in Kensington and went to all these families and sang Christmas carols from my mini hymn book! They were either drunk or sober but it didn’t matter because once we started the hymns, their eyes lit up and some of them sang along to the ones they knew!! It was cool because we felt the love that Heavenly father has for ALL of his children and how happy he will be when they can realize the love he has for them and come back into the fold:) It was almost like your experience Bekah!
Anyways, I’m super excited for Christmas and Skyping my family! Even though I get crap from the elders since I’ve only been out a month haha! We also got invited to several family braiis so we won’t go hungry!! (braii (a br-eye) is a bbq)
It’s comforting to know that whatever my mood is at the beginning of the day, when I can serve all day and feel those spiritual highs I go to bed happy and confident and with a bigger testimony of this wonderful gospel:)
Tha's 'bout all!
Elder David Spencer Tony Smith

Elder Smith's kitchen

Elder Smith's desk on the right

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Elder Smith's Addresses

i have had quite a few people ask me for these recently so i'm going to put them all here for easy access. thank you so much, by the way, for supporting Elder Smith.  we know he truly appreciates the time and effort you make to stay in touch!  ~L


POUCH (for one page letters):
Elder David Spencer Smith
South Africa Johannesburg Mission
POB 30150
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150
*Please follow the Pouch mail instructions carefully. One-page letters, (no envelopes or photos) written on one side of the page may be sent by Pouch. Fold the letter in thirds, blank side out. Place 2 pieces of tape on the long side about one inch in from each end but do not seal the ends. Return address in the top left corner, first class US stamp in the top right corner & Elder Smith's Pouch address (above) in the middle. Notebook & lightweight paper will not make it through the high-speed sorting system so please use something more heavy-weight.

Elder David Spencer Smith
South Africa Johannesburg Mission
Private Bag X4
Ansfrere 1711, South Africa

Elder David Spencer Smith
South Africa Johannesburg Mission
3 Phillips Avenue
Discovery 1709
South Africa
*Packages should be labeled "MISSIONARY SUPPLIES" and valued less than $40.00 to avoid high custom charges.  


"Life as a missionary is very interesting to say the least!"

Howzit all!?
Wow, I have officially been here 3 weeks and yet my life is changed! For the better too:)
So my companion who is training me is Elder Manuel Matos from Venezuela. He’s a great guy and I am learning lots! It helps that we get along alright too, I don’t want to beat him up yet ;) haha jk From the stories I’ve heard, it could be worse! But he and I have been assigned to open a new area! Joburg 3. For those who don’t know what that entails, 2 words can cover it fairly simply: hard work. When you open a new area, there are no investigators, no contacts, no nuthin'! haha So we wake up every morning and after 3 hours of study/training we go out proselyting. Proselyting involves tracting (knocking on doors) and street contacting (walking up and down the streets meeting people and introducing ourselves and our message). At least the weather’s nice though (except it rains every single day) because the work is all work haha.
Here in South Africa it’s... well let’s just say not as safe as we're used to back in good ol' Utah. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, rich and poor has a 7ft fence with barbed wire and spikes and sometimes electric surrounding their property. You can imagine how difficult it would be to tract when you can’t knock on any doors, right?? So what we have to do is look for people in their yards or places with intercoms and pray the intercom isn’t broken. It’s just a super different culture here that’ll take some getting used to. My area (Kensington, Bruma and Berea for those with Google maps) has rich and poor areas. The rich people are snobby and tell us to get lost and the poor people don’t speak English; well not all of them anyway. So it’s hard but the work goes on!! I just pray that I get through the day and so far I’ve made it haha:) Life as a missionary is very interesting to say the least! You are really just thrown out on your own! "Here’s R1350*- spend it wisely this month!" (Crazy how we can live off of about $135 huh!?) So if I could give any advice for future missionaries and college students it would be this: learn how to cook, plan, budget and shop!! You won’t regret it!
So those who were in my neighborhood will appreciate this next part! In the MTC I had a friend from Manchester England (yeah a ManU fan, not Chelsea:/ ) named Elder Wild. Do you guys remember Elder Rowlands who served in our stake who was from England?? He lived with Elder Wild!! Elder Wild had Elder Rowland's actual Preach My Gospel book with the words "West Jordan - CH stake” written in it! I thought that it was just the craziest connection!!
I wish I had more time to email and make this blog post not so...unorganized, but we only have one day to do our shopping, laundry, soccer and cleaning so I better hop to it! For those who have emailed, I love every bit of it and tried to reply to them all even if it was just a little bit:) keep them coming!! And for those who haven’t received a letter, they’re coming!! They’ll get there it just takes forever and I have a little time to write each night:) so if you haven’t gotten one, it’s not cause I don’t love you:) it’ll come!
On that note, if I could ask Santa for anything this Christmas, it would be handwritten letters that I can hold and read each night!!  Also just happy pictures of all my friends and family smiling:) you wouldn't believe how much it can brighten the day of a person 9,000 miles from home! I know postage is expensive but I can’t print anything off here in an internet cafe. If you email pictures I can look at them once a week which is great! but a hard copy would be even better:) I’d also ask Santa to keep me in his prayers:) All of you, my friends and family, are in my prayers multiple times a day and I thank the Lord for every person He's given me!!
Tha’s ‘bout all!
Elder Spencer Smith
(*Editor’s note- the local currency is the Rand or R.  R1 is equal to about $0.097 USD.)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Elder Smith (from Pres. Omer)

11 December 2013

Dear Brother and Sister Smith,

I am pleased to inform you that your son, Elder David Spencer Smith has arrived in the South Africa Johannesburg Mission and he is doing wonderfully.  We are delighted to have him serving with us in the Mission.  Elder Smith will serve initially in the Johannesburg 3 Area of the Johannesburg Zone. His companion and trainer is Elder Manuel Matos Bautista, from Venezuela. Attached are 2 pictures we thought you might enjoy.  One is of him with Sis. Omer and me, and the other is of him with his new companion.  
Uplifting and supportive letters from home are important to missionaries.  We encourage you to write or e-mail your son weekly.  
We appreciate your support of your missionary and thank you for sharing him with the South Africa Johannesburg Mission.  

S. Craig Omer, President
South Africa Johannesburg Mission

SAMTC empty (from Sis. Reber)

The MTC is empty.  There is no more laughter in the halls.
The missionaries left this morning for their missions.  They were excited and ready to get out into the field.
I will most likely know their trainers.  

These are the final photos I'm sending to you.  It is the group photo that will hang on the wall of the MTC....and also a Preach My Gospel photo with them holding up their training manual.

Thank you to those who send me kind notes and helped me feel that it was worth the effort to email you.

Sister Janet Reber
South Africa MTC

(can you spot Elder Smith?)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

mtc choir (from Sis. Reber)

Each missionary at the MTC is in the MTC choir.  Today they performed "Angels we have heard on high" to three different wards.  Elder Autry and Elder Mukonda took turns leading.  I accompanied on the piano.  They were fabulous!

Yesterday we had a great opportunity.  I invited the Christian Fellowship Group (of which I am a member) to a Christmas lunch at the MTC in our apartment.  I am the first Latter-day Saint to be on their committee and they have been pretty nervous about me.  It is a miracle that they agreed to come to the MTC.  Although the 5 different churches they belong to are in the neighborhood, they didn't know where our church was.  So yesterday we had a chance to bring the Church "out of obscurity".

After we ate in our apartment, we led them into where the missionaries were in class.  Then the missionaries performed for them.  The guests were amazed and just loved it.  We sang two more songs and they joined in.  The Spirit was strong and they could feel it.  This was a remarkable event to dispel bad feelings about the Church.  President Reber fielded questions for an hour after the singing.  The missionaries were a big part of this wonderful event.

Sister Janet Reber
South Africa MTC

Saturday, December 7, 2013

service (from Sis. Reber)

This morning the missionaries at the MTC gave 30 minutes of service.  Each missionary had an assignment with their companion.
They work hard, then get cleaned up and start their training and classes.  It is a nice change of pace for them.

Aren't they great!!!

Sister Janet Reber
South Africa MTC

missionaries celebrate birthdays (from Sis. Reber)

Last night we celebrated Elder Johnson and Elder Cummings birthday.
They were sung to in Shona, Zula, Beba, French, English and American Sign Language.  It was really neat.
Both admitted they had never had such a party.

The missionaries continue to progress!  Tonight we have people from the community come to the MTC so they can teach them.
It should be a great experience.

Sister Janet Reber
South Africa MTC

Johannesburg Temple (from Sis. Reber)

We attended the Johannesburg Temple.  Nine of the missionaries received their endowments.
It was a glorious day and a good experience for everyone.  If the missionaries look happy...
it is because they are!
Sister Janet Reber
South Africa MTC

December 5, 2013

(received 5:04 am)
Sheesh, this is a WHOLE lot different than I expected. I knew it would be hard but not even close to this hard! Trying to focus on the work has been really difficult when all I can think of is how long two years is and how much I love everyone at home. Seriously, I love all of the people that have influenced my life up until I left, especially my close friends. So here it goes. I've gotten a lot of questions about so many things but I only have a limited time to email here in the MTC so I will try to explain as much as I can and answer as much as I can:)
So here in the MTC we have a rigid schedule. We wake up at 5:50 and go running and come home and get ready for the day all dressed and packed up by breakfast at 7 o'clock. From there we have classes all morning where we learn the finer points of being a missionary like how to teach, how to ask questions, how to invite the spirit daily into our lives, how to study for our investigators, and how to organize our materials and lives. Then we have lunch and go back to classes for a couple hours when we get to "go to sport" (the new language patterns are so funny and it’s been fun getting used to them and learning how to use them.)
So Joburg is BEAUTIFUL!!!!! I've never seen anything like it anywhere that I've traveled before. It’s green everywhere and the temperature is so nice! It also rains often and when it does it "buckets" or pours! But it’s amazing here:)
I have a list of stuff to type but I’m getting kicked off now so hopefully I can get back on later today, if not, I’ll be out of the MTC in 5 days and ill have more than 45 minutes to email!
I LOVE YOU GUYS!! Please keep me in your prayers if you will:)
(received 6:51 am)
Sorry I got booted off before I could finish all I wanted to say. So yes it’s beautiful here in SA but man is it a different culture! They have beggars at all the stop lights (which is sad but sketchy) and all their cars are little, no big trucks at all! The weirdest thing by far though is driving on the opposite side of the road. Every time I've been in a car I feel like that scene from Galaxy Quest where the kid is pulling the space ship out of the spaceport and all of their heads lean to the side cause he can’t drive hahaha just a funny observation :P  Mom I love you! It’s fun to send a couple emails while you're asleep haha! No companions named Botho or anything like that but Elder Moliki is from Joburg and he has taught me so much about humility and many lessons. I’ll let him know my family is praying for him. Dad, your red and blue tie went to the Joburg temple with me so I could take you there with me:) I hope teaching all goes well and your students appreciate it, I know I did when I was in seminary.
The thing I want to tell you is I love you all. I pray about you every night and I cannot describe how much I love you, have I said that enough?? Again I’m limited for time but I have a list of things I still wanted to include:
-send my priesthood line of authority please?
-please send pictures!! friends and family!
-send a scripture mastery card??
-advice for those of my friends and family prepping for missions: make sure you do it for you!!! If you don’t, the whole experience will not be the same and it will be very hard. Also try to do splits with the missionaries at least once!
-in the intro to the pearl of great price, are we related to Franklin D Richards??
I know it’s sporadic but it’s the best with what little time I’m given. I want you all to know I love you beyond measure. The Savior loves you even more than that!! I've found that to be true and a comfort. I know this gospel is true and that by living it, the spirit will always be with us and we will have peace and guidance. I love this gospel and have taken it for granted way too long. 19 years too long but I know that we can all re-focus and the Savior will love us for making the right decisions. Love you all!!!!
Tha's 'bout it!
-Elder S Smith:)

miracle at the mtc (from Sis. Reber)

On Monday I checked all of the missionary's rooms.  They all passed room check and the reward was a delicious South African candy bar.  I think you will easily see that they were pretty happy about it.

For those of you who never saw a clean room when they lived at home....this is a real miracle.

I need your help:
I like to do a "before" mission picture and an MTC photo to see the contrast.
So I need a photo of your missionary looking NOT like a missionary. 
Ideas:  in a uniform, casual clothes, long hair, wild hair, shaved head,
pulling a silly face, holding something a missionary wouldn't a
rugby ball, fish, toy.....

Please email it to me soon so I can get a slide show ready to show the missionaries.
I want it to be a surprise to them.

Sister Janet Reber
South Africa MTC

[*editor's note- below are the "before" mission photos I sent to Sis. Reber.*]

missionaries eat new foods (from Sis. Reber)

The African missionaries taught the "foreigners" to eat the staple food in Africa.  In South Africa it is called "Pap".
It is a ground grain and is eaten with the fingers.  We had a great time with this cultural event.  I hope the photos
show the meal time at the MTC as well as eating pap.

Sister Janet Reber
South Africa MTC

This is Sis. Reber.

hail storm (from Sis. Reber)

We had a huge hail storm here at the MTC.  It flooded the rain came after the hail stopped.
Water came in under the front door of the MTC.  Many of the African missionaries had never seen hail before and they loved it.  The excitement was amazing.  Sorry if your missionary isn't in the photo...I was busy moping up water.

Sister Janet Reber
South Africa MTC

they get companions (from Sis. Reber)

The missionaries have companions. They are working hard to become great missionaries.

Love, Sister Janet Reber
South Africa MTC
Elder Moliki and Elder Smith