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.)