Guest Testimonies

Monday, December 29, 2014

"As we were willing to work, we've had an incredible month; we've had amazing miracles and found wonderful people."

Audio Blog: "We've found December has been one of our most rewarding months! As we were willing to work, we've had an incredible month; we've had amazing miracles and found wonderful people.  And it's just going to get better!"
Elder Smith's Tree & stocking
Elder Ah Wong's tree & stocking
Elder Savage (the "grandson") in the old Daveyton (Benoni) flat
Santa remembered Elder Smith!
The Nelspruit & Daveyton Districts have a Christmas Eve sleepover in Benoni.
A fetching photo of Elder Allen and their Christmas Day breakfast at the Mission Home in Johannesburg.
They finally got their KFC! ;)
Elder's Smith & Ah Wong doing splits with their Zone Leader.

Elder Swan has a visit with Santa.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

T'was the night before Christmas when all through the flat, not an elder was sleeping, not even Elder Smith...

                T’was the night before Christmas when all through the flat, not an elder was sleeping, not even Elder Smith… so maybe my poetry needs a little more work but I think it’s the motive behind it that shinesType equation here. a bit brighter than the poetry itself. This is my 2nd and last Christmas on mission and as I approach it this year, I am a bit more prepared than last year. That could be taken in several ways but the one I want to focus on is my preparation to be able to celebrate the birth of the Savior in a selfless way; the most selfless way I’ve ever celebrated it before in my life!
                As I think about Christmas, the things that come most quickly to my mind are the great memories! The funny, less-significant things like being out of school and the food as well as things of a bit more importance such as music, family, gifts, and the Savior. As I think about them, I smile and laugh to myself to remember all the fun traditions and things and to then see how they can be linked back to the real Reason for the season.
                Music has been and always will be a big part of my life. The case is the same with Christmas music! Alright, so I can’t stand a lot of it and some of the songs are pretty corny but a lot of it, especially the Christmas hymns are the best! We’ve been caroling around Nelspruit and to see people’s faces light up as they recognize and start singing along is so sweet! As well, there are great memories associated with my Raffi CD that I’ve been playing in the car! Haha we always played that CD when we decorated our Christmas tree. It got to the point where we now know ALL the words and even what song comes next before it starts playing! Haha! Or all of the times at Grandma and Grandpa Richard’s house when we had the Christmas talent show, I can’t remember not doing something musical each year. Music is definitely a great part of this Christmas season!
                And speaking of the Richard’s Christmas party, memories of family gatherings and family also fill my mind when I think of Christmas. It is always a time where people came from out of town for all of the different parties and to celebrate with the family! As we have been asked what is our favorite part of Christmas, family has always been a part of my answer! I don’t think there is something else that makes me smile like I do when I think about my family and Christmas! Isn’t it great that we also have knowledge of how to have an eternal family!? That way our happiness can be eternal! Only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ is that able to happen and it is this season in which we celebrate His birth. :) I have great memories attached with my family and friends and Christmas!
                The next thing I think about when I think “Christmas” is gifts. And I like to think about it in two ways. The first, giving of gifts is one I know we are all familiar with. It’s one of my favorite things to give gifts! Now, admittedly I can say that when I was younger my favorite was “what do I get from Santa!?!?” but now I think that I enjoy giving more than receiving! And I think that is because when you have someone picked out, you start to think about what gift could make that person smile the most, what would mean the most to them? And then you give your gift and it’s usually a memorable experience! That is why I like giving gifts but the second reason may be a bit less common of a thought and may be a bit more difficult. The second part of gifts is being the receiver of gifts. What does it take to be a good receiver? I think it boils down to humility (Jacob 4:3), gratitude and then using the gift! When all those fall into place, I think we are on our way to some great Christmas memories!
                The last and most important thing I think of when its Christmas time is the Savior. He is the Gift and He is my favorite part of Christmas. I cannot remember a time where Christmas in my life was not very closely linked with the Savior! We were forever dressing up and acting out the nativity whether it was with the Smith family, the Richards/Homer family, or even my immediate family! This season is truly all about the one we call our Redeemer and our Savior, Jesus the Christ! How great that he came to the earth introduced by a heavenly choir singing wondrous music. Because of Him, we have eternal families and Happiness! Because our Father in Heaven gave us the gift of His Son (John 3:16, 3 Nephi 14:9-11) and He gave His everything for us in the gift of the Atonement, we are able to have not just immortality but eternal life! So how do we receive this gift? We live the gospel that he taught us! Our Faith in Christ leads us to repentance and the making/renewing of covenants that will allow us to live Christ-like lives. How do we give back? We turn outward and serve and love those around us! (Mosiah 2:17)
                I am very thankful for this unique chance to serve during Christmas time! My focus can be wholly upon the Savior and the Atonement! With the help of the Savior and my companion, we can bring others to the same knowledge and subsequent happiness and peace that our families have received!! With this, I wish all of you back home a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!! Remember the real Reason for the season and let us all strive to be more like Him in this coming 2015 year!
I love you!
-Elder David Spencer “Tony” Smith
On top of the Klaserie Falls in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve (also known as God's Window)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In which Elder Smith spends 7 hours in the car and then learns a lesson he'll never forget.

With Bro. Lebogang, the Facebook referral from Arizona!

Elder Ranjato gets ready to go home!  Elder Willombe will have a new companion
Nelspruit Area

ICYMI- Elder Smith wanted a new feature added to his blog, "Guest Testimonies."  Click the tab just under the title banner to hear testimonies from missionaries and members serving with Elder Smith. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"It’s motivating to live the right way and work super-super hard so I can set a good example."

This week’s letter consists of answers to many of my questions.  As he says, he frequently runs out of email time so he didn’t write a blog post, but this letter was informative so I wanted to share it. -Mom
Elder Ah Wong baptized Ezrom's daughter, Violet.
                Alright I have to apologize I ran out of time really quickly today in email. I always go in with the best intentions and game plan for how I’m gonna do it and then, like today, I’ll get an email that is unexpected  and my whole thing will be thrown off haha. Oh well I guess it’s all part of it :P and for that, I’m glad I have typie :) so here I go- I think I’ll answer all your questions first then go from there!!
1-How is district leading and working with Elder Ah Wong?” Well, I love both and being DL has its challenges! It’s amazing to see how experience that can only be gained thru companions and time help you to learn how to live and work with all sorts of companions! That being said, the Lord blessed me with Elder Ah Wong because we are very similar and he is just so easy going that he is able to put up with me haha. I love working with him. I don’t think I’ve ever realized how hard of a person I am to live with. I don’t know if its mission but I think I’ve become a bit OCD and stressful. Part of me knows that’s bad and I should be more patient but the other part of me understands because this is the work of salvation and so I can’t just be skippdy-doodle or else my accounting before the Lord won’t be that fun ya know! Another thing I’ve learned so far is that it doesn’t help to complain about any problems because it is what it is so I try to only focus on the good things and the future! District leading, like I said last week has been very eye opening! It’s motivating to live the right way and work super-super hard so I can set a good example. Idk mom, tell me what you think, whenever I make a small mistake I apologize and say I’ll do better and all I get is a weird look like “come on Elder Smith, you were 2 minutes late.” Now it’s not the two minutes I’m worried about but it’s the example that I’m setting. Maybe I’m too worried about being perfect? :)
2-Nelspruit details: so Nelspruit itself  is a town that has its white parts, black parts, colored parts, and then mixed parts make up the majority but it’s all got one thing in common: $$$ or should I say RRR (*R for Rand= South African currency) Haha they are all cheesy! (*Cheesy /Cheese/Cheese-boy = Expensive/Luxurious/Posh)   All nice cars and nice houses and big gates and big mean dogs Haha it’s a far cry from township where you have humble people and humble circumstances. Now all of that is Nelspruit town. Our area goes all the way to Komatipoort by Mozambique, up to Bushbackridge in the north and down on the borders of Swaziland. So it’s about a 3-4 hour drive from one of the ends to the other. It’s BIG! That being said, then you have Kanyamazane which is the other elders’ area and branch in the middle of ours and that’s a township. So for us, we cover the whole range from village to cheese-boy town. Haha but we mainly work in town because that’s where the chapel is and where people can get to church. Once a week we usually pick some far area like Sabie, Lydenburg, Hazyview or Barberton and go there to strengthen the members and teach the few investigators who are out there that come to church. We don’t do finding there cause it’s pointless to teach someone who can’t get to church for baptism. It’s all good tho because they’ll get their chance for the gospel. We’re striving to build up this kingdom so we really only try to teach those who are keeping commitments hardcore. Haha it’s funny to then look back and see how many joker-ish people we had in Daveyton. What that means tho is that we do a ton of finding! Tracting isn’t effective during the day cause everyone has a job and isn’t home so we are trying to do as much parking lot finding as we can. Haha it takes a lot of motivation to get ourselves excited to go talk to grumpy white people :P you can imagine that we jump at the chance to talk to a black guy in a car! It indicates someone who has transport to church, somewhat humble, kind and not rude like most white people. Now don’t get me for a racist cause there are some very nice white people! In fact, in my 11 months on mission I actually taught my first white guy on Friday!! Haha funny thing to think about right? Missionary work is different here that’s for sure but it’s an area that’s teaching me! No time to be lazy here! Haha another funny thing I noticed is that my planner is a lot less full -____- and I like teaching so that sucks a bit but it’s an adjustment. I think that helps build mine and Ah Wong’s relationship because we spend a lot more time facing adversity and finding ways to overcome and still have fun! :)
Found him!  Thanks Google Earth!
3- We live in a complex called Villa De Sutene in a suburb called Stonehenge. That’s where us, the Swans and the Scotts live! Have fun finding us!

We do most of our work in Stonehenge (teaching a lot of students who are down to learn and at a crucial point in their lives) so you can take a look at the streets :)  then a place called “Steiltes” and “West Acres” we spend less time because its more affluent and less kind :P
4-That lady who we thought was a golden investigator is Prudence Tshabalala and we were so excited for her except when we tried to check on her yesterday we knocked and nobody answered (now the funny thing is there were people inside and funny enough when they saw us in the window, they figured they’d play hide-n-seek and not answer for us) so that’s discouraging. What most likely happened is that her brother in law (who is a pastor) probably told her his opinion on us and the Book of Mormon so now we’re trying really hard to see them but they don’t answer our calls or our knocks :/
5- I too loved conference and I love conference  talks! Like the last two weeks I have uploaded 2 talks that have really helped me! I was glad to steal them from Elder Bizimana back in Daveyton because I listen to them as part of my morning routine. The Brethren really are an inspired bunch aren’t they?! It’s crazy somewhere I heard that they receive revelation and do things like 25 years in advance to help us prepare for the future! Now idk if that’s true but it’s pretty amazing! And thank goodness we have this gospel, eh? I have loved being able to read your testimony every week for almost a year as much as you say you have loved being able to share! It is a part of parenting I think I chose to skip out on back home and that choice I regret. But here we are now and I’m thankful you didn’t give up on me! :)
Love, Elder Spencer Smith
Never miss a chance to share the gospel!

This is how we do service projects in South Africa!

We use machetes to clear the forest.

The first cluster meeting in Daveyton.  They met their first time after I had already left for Nelspruit.
Clegg and the Daveyton kids! 

Monday, November 10, 2014

"Expect Miracles!"

This week's audio blog is all about Zone Meetings, exchanges, a baptism and miracles. 
The baptism of Brother Esrom
Just for fun, Bobo from Daveyton exhibits his talents in a Zulu Hymn.
October 15, 2014

A P-Day Adventure: "We saw tons of springbok and impala, turtles, warthogs, monkeys, kudus, zebras, giraffes, crocodiles, hippos and 3 out of the Big 5!"

November 3, 2014

“Everybodies(is it y’s?) got a water buffalo, yours is fast but mine is slow. Where did we get them, I don’t know but everybodies got a water buffalooooooo! Tune in next time to hear Elder Smith sing “Everybodies got the African Big 5, we saw three but missing two….”

                Hahaha gotta love Veggie Tales :) but on tha real, yesterday was so siiiiick!! Haha before I came on my mission, I knew very little about the physical part of South Africa, except that the Kruger National park was located in our mission boundary. So with that little gem I told people that I would be able to go the park and, it took me 11 months but yesterday I made it!! Our whole district, thanks to the generosity of the Scotts and Swans, got to go to Kruger! Man it was so cool!!! The layout was exactly what we all THINK our mission looks like and what we all think of when we hear “Africa”. So what you do is you drive around the park, kind of like Yellowstone but not nearly as many people or stops. So you drive around about 30kmh and just keep your eyes peeled for the animals that roam the park! We saw: tons of Springbok and Impala, turtles, warthogs, monkeys, kudus, Zebras, Giraffes, crocodiles, hippos and 3 out of the 5 Big 5! Yo they aren’t kidding when they say “big” either! The water buffalo were big and so were the elephants (it was cool to see that they still had their tusks) but the thing that amazed me the most was the size of the Rhinos! Those things were tanks! Their horns were about a yard long and they were huge! Haha we were glad to see them as well because we’ve heard they are getting relocated because of poaching :/ So unfortunately we missed the leopards and lions but the rumor is that if you see 2 of the 5, you’ve had a great day and we saw 3 so there are no complaints! It was so cool to be able to see these things outside of a zoo setting where they just chill and do their thing in the wild.
                That’s really the biggest thing to report on from this last week, or at least it was one of the highlights. Elder Ah Wong and I are having fun trying new finding ideas by going around to different lodges and Bed+Breakfasts and offering copies of the Book of Mormon for their rooms! Some of the owners reject but we’ve had great success from the receptionists who also ask for a copy of the book! In fact, yesterday morning we got a call from one of the ladies who said that she loves the book and wants to learn more about it and more about the church! SWEEEEET! The Book of Mormon really can convert and it is the greatest tool! So that’s been really fun to see and to do as a part of our finding. We have a baptism on Sunday of a brother named Esrom. Elder Ah Wong and McClellan recontacted him from former investigators and it was inspired because he wasn’t ready before but he sure is now! And the cool thing is that his daughter is going to be baptized the week after him! Then hopefully we’ll start teaching his son! Ahhh I love father led families! Haha so powerful! I love mission!
                On another note, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!! You’re getting to be an old man! :) I hope you had a great birthday!
                Well, I love you guys!
Elder Spencer "Tony" Smith

I have thoroughly enjoyed my 6 months in Daveyton!

October 13, 2014

                Elder Clegg and I decided that for our last week together we would do our blog post together! So I'm sure you can check it out on his blog "Tanner Clegg, Called to Serve in Africa" as well as here! But we have had a great run as companions as well as I have thoroughly enjoyed my 6 months in Daveyton! I'm on to a new area, new companion, and new calling so wish me luck! Enjoy this weeks audio blog post :)
Love ya!
-Elder David Spencer “Tony” Smith

Audio Blog Post: the companion edition (click here)

Visiting FNB Stadium (aka First Nation Bank Stadium, The Calabash or Soccer City):  Home of the Kaizer Chiefs F.C. and  the 2010 FIFA World Cup.  It is also the site of Nelson Mandela's first speech to Johannesburg after his release from prison in 1990 and was the venue for his memorial service in December 2013.  Click to learn more.

Elder Clegg.  He landed it perfectly ;) 

Elder Clegg and Elder Smith

Representing Copper Hills Lacrosse in the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa

Joining the Kaizer Chiefs, aka Amakhosi

Saying goodbye to his first "son," Elder Clegg from Lehi, Utah.  

"Back to the Basics"

October 27, 2014
So this week has been full! I didn’t get time to type or even a second (okay I didn’t really make time cause p-day snuck up on me) to record a blog post but I did get some time to type out some of my thoughts from conference this week! We got to see it Saturday and Sunday and I absolutely loved it! So I hope you feel the same way as I did with these inspired men and women of God. I loved how conference was so very "back to the basics" and the reminders it contained! Enjoy! I love you all!!
Love, Elder David Spencer "Tony" Smith  
The Nelspruit Branch Building where I watched conference.
Watching conference!  It was great!
General Conference Notes: Back to the Basics

Pres. Monson- hey it’s cool to be a part of over 88,000 missionaries!
Pres. Packer-We will always find His arms of mercy open towards us every time we forsake sin and repent.
Elder Robbins-wasn’t this a great talk!? “Which way do you face?” is what sticks with me most from this conference! And I love how he used the example of Moroni as someone who knew which way he faced and what kind of an impact he has. No time for acquiescence! We always should evaluate which we face at any given time.
Sis. Esplin- I loved these talks on the sacrament! I have truly grown to love the sacrament and ability we have to repent and renew the covenants WEEKLY! It’s the best spiritual recharge we can get! And any time we can reflect on all aspects of the Atonement, we will be better off than we were.
Elder Wong- Now I thought this was super cool how these general authorities were able to deliver their talks in their native languages! We heard the translation on our recordings of the conference instead of subtitles but that was just cool! And what a great way to look at the story in Mark about that man! I liked the way this talked highlighted what pres. Dunn calls “Mesh-inary” work, or members and Full-Time Missionaries working together in the work of salvation!
Elder Christofferson-no excuses talk again! I love the way he explains moral agency as it pertains to personal responsibility. The commandments are the manifestation of God’s love for us! And freedom comes not from resisting but from applying.
Pres. Uchtdorf- basics of prayer! I think we all needed this reminder! And I love the 4th step he adds after praying which is to act! When we are acting is when we can receive that confirmation!
Elder Oaks-kindness is powerful! And as Disciples of Christ, we should be examples of civility
Elder Anderson-“be sure to adjust your own mask before assisting others.” I gained a lot of strength from this talk in courage to stand for what I believe.
Elder Callister-This talk got me thinking about how much I love my parents! The home is the ideal place for learning the gospel. I love the examples of Enos’ and Alma the Younger’s fathers and the quote that “my mother taught me” because I truly love the example my parents are to me!
Elder Klebingal- I think this was my favorite talk all in all. It’s so hard to find peace in this life with all the evil voices around us. I love his 6 steps that he lays out and I really appreciated the boldness of his remarks! It was just direct and really answered the question that I approached conference with!
Elder Gavarrel- never follow a wrong voice. Simple enough eh? It made me think about missionary commitments in that would Jesus ask you to do anything different than what we are asking?
Elder Holland- first off, when you hear the emotion in his voice, it brings a special spirit! And I really love the reference to kind Benjamin’s “are we not all beggars?” as well as Isaiah’s “how beautiful upon the mountains...” What a great talk!
Elder Perry- 1 of 3 references to Helaman 5:12 and I like reminder to never let the noise of the world drown out the still small voice of the spirit.
Pres. Eyring- Personal revelation lifts us beyond our own capacities. I think that if I had to speak about the experiences in which my mother’s (and fathers) personal revelation brought me to where I am today, I would get very emotional just as he did. Was there a stronger spirit? Man I loved it!
Elder Nelson- reminders on what it means to sustain a prophet!
Sis. McConkie- 2 of 3 references to Helaman 5:12. More great words on how sustaining the prophet is how we stay on the gospel path
Elder Hales- 3rd reference to Hel 5:12. What a great talk on the sacred nature of the Godhead!
Elder Hamula- another great talk on the sacrament and how the emblems remind of the things we committed to and the atonement! I loved his reference to 3 Ne 27 and how we truly need to always repent ad the sacrament allows us to do that!
Pres. Monson- I love our prophet! Walking AS Jesus walked is more important than walking WHERE he walked. And that is the goal to our mortal life. We are agents unto ourselves to walk the path of obedience J whether that is mission or life obedience.
Elder Ballard- we really need to “Stay in the boat!” cause the old ship Zion is where we want to be! As tempting as it may be to go for a swim, it’s not worth it to drown.
Elder Scott- this talk touched me as he talked specifically about prayer! I loved all 4 tools but his thoughts on prayer, when applied, make all the difference!!
Elder Godoy- some of the best advice on making correct decisions! And cool enough, the morning we heard this talk, I was also listening to Elder Oaks talk about “good better and best” and he referenced it in this talk!
Elder Packer- let us not be distracted and remove our personal obstruction of hesitation.
Elder Martinez- every soul has great worth! Service reflects the pure love of Christ.
**”celestial glory shall be mine if I can but endure”-I am a Child of God**
Elder Kacher- what a great talk about our examples! This world definitely has too many unseen (and even seen) dangerous currents that we need to avoid!
Elder Bednar- “come and see” our church always has been an always will be a missionary church! As we turn to Christ, we will turn outward
Pres. Monson- at all times and in all things, may we be followers of Christ
*we don’t get priesthood session till next Sunday but if the talks there are anything close to these ones, I can’t wait!

This is an excerpt from Sister Scott's blog, one of the two missionary couples in Elder Smith's district.  It explains some of these photos he sent:

"The staining project is one Sister Jennifer (the RS President) asked for help to do. Elder Scott and the Elders volunteered to help her protect her all wood house. It is a most unusual home built on stilts and completely out of wood. Most houses here are cinder block and concrete. She has indoor plumbing—after a fashion—and wood walls and floors. Most everyone else has tile everything… But because of the rains she needed to protect the wood. They rolled and brushed every nook and cranny of the tall house with 6 liters of the best stain and sealer combo. Elder Scott said they were all covered in stain especially Elder Swan who drew ladder duty. He even had his bald pate covered in red mahogany spots. As it turned out, it was Sister Jennifer’s birthday. Later, in a text, she said it was the best birthday gift she has ever received.  Elder Scott said it was the absolutely most fulfilling service project he has ever participated in." 
Sister Scott's Blog
Service Project: Staining Sister Jennifer's house.
Elder Scott getting the stain off of Elder Swan's head.

"One last spot here..."

Going to the Promised Land

October 20, 2014

Elder Ah Wong is from New Zealand.  He was in Elder Clegg's MTC group.  

Getting right to work!
We regret to inform you that Elder Smith has now been transferred to the Promised Land. If you have any aversion to 100% positive comments, please do not continue to pursue this blog post. The author (Elder Smith himself) is in a place where he may not leave without kicking and screaming! Enjoy the audio :) and enjoy the many pictures that I had to take! Haha! It's amazingly beautiful here!

Click the video below to hear Elder Smith's audio blog set to photos from Daveyton and Nelspruit.

Elder Spencer Smith, GOALie

Monday, October 6, 2014

"We're gonna try an all audio blog post! So plug in your headphones and get ready!"

Hey! The life of this goalie has been toooo nice this week! And this week I think Imma try to do something a little different so I hope it works and I hope it puts a new spin on the blog posts :) We’re gonna try an all audio blog post! So I’ll type some of the main stories/headlines from the week here but in order to get a full story, ya gotta listen :) so plug in your headphones and get ready for Daveyton: 29 Sept-5 Oct.6.
-Updates from lessons of the week: Lebo, Oliver, Jacob, Ntokozo, Thabang, Sello, Anna
-Doing service at Shimi’s house
-Funerals galore :/
-Prepping for general conference! (msh 2:1)
-A trial of faith—fasting
-Other fun stories :)-
(Mom's note: It's a bit long but totally worth it. The best stuff is at the end.)
 As well, enjoy the testimonies of these powerhouses that we get to teach with! We’re spoiled to work with such great young men!
                I love you guys and I miss you but askeese, I wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else right now! Salani kahle!
                Elder David Spencer “Tony” Smith

the mission planner "I love to see the Temple"
the back of the mission planner "I am doing a GREAT WORK and cannot come down."
sunset in Daveyton