**because elder smith didn't have time to write for the blog this week, i would like to share a letter that he wrote to the members of his home ward at the end of last year.**
Tuesday, 31 December 2013
Johannesburg, South Africa
To my wonderful home ward,
I hope all is well back in Utah and that you all had a wonderful holiday season! Because of the atmosphere during this season here in downtown Johannesburg, we cannot leave our flat but I count my blessings because it allows me time to reflect on the importance of this restored Gospel. I'm lucky to have this time because I wanted to write and address all of my friends and neighbors in the Copper Hills 7th ward. As we go into a new year, we all get to look back on 2013 with all the fun memories and learning experiences we had, as well as look forward to 2014 with goals and further growth in mind. I have only been serving a little over a month and have a ways to go but with all I've learned in that short time, I'm excited to grow further in this amazing Gospel. Here in South Africa, People, lifestyle and culture are nothing like what we are familiar with back home, but the Gospel is! Whether we're 30 from church headquarters or 9,094 miles, it makes no difference and is a testament to the divinity and truth that our Church is founded upon.
Being here has opened my eyes in many ways and I wish to share the experiences and things that I am working on now and plan on applying when I get home! As you can guess, here in Joburg, there aren't chapels every half milke and not everyone knows about the church; in fact, members are few and far between. With that in mind however, I'm inspired daily by what I see and just have to share!
The first thing I want to share is how people can magnify their callings despite their situation or the calling itself. One brother has the assignment of placing hymn books before sacrament meeting. He walks 10 km and get there 1 hour before the meeting starts so that they can be neat and organized for sacrament meeting that day. We saw him one morning as we came out of a meeting and he just looked ecstatic to be there doing what he was doing! Something as seemingly simple as laying out hymn books yet this brother was happy to serve and to do his part! I want to follow his example when I get back of joyfully serving whenever I am called. The diligence I've seen is amazing and encouraging. To walk into a single room house with a tin roof and to see a copy of "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" taped on the wall beside a pass along card with a picture of the Savior just shows how much this Church and the Gospel means to these wonderful people! It makes me want to strive not to take it for granted anymore!
Brothers and sisters, my friends, I want to bear my testimony to you that I know beyond the slightest doubt that this is the Restored Gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ on the earth today! The Church is true! The Book of Mormon along with the words of our Prophets can be the guiding light and driving force for all of God's children if we only do our best to have faith, repent, be baptized or take the sacrament, live with the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and never, EVER give up! Because of the Atonement we can live with our Heavenly Father again one day and also with our families. I know that families are ordained of God and as we strive to come closer to God, we will grow closer to our families. I know that through prayer, we can receive guidance, comfort and personal revelation and that God is just waiting for us to ask! We can't receive until we ask and the door can't be opened until we knock but the love our Father has for us will never fail and He and His Son will always be there for us; that is the truth.
I love you brothers and sisters and you are in my prayers. I would invite you to continue being the best you can be and do not ever give up!
Elder David Spencer Smith