April 28, 2014
5 MONTHS TODAY!!!!!!!!! BRINGO!!!!!!!!
Eish it’s been a while! How is everyone back home!?
Eish I can’t even remember the last chance I had to write a blog post it’s been pretty hectic here! (And the fact that we have limited time once a week also adds to that but excuses are 10 pushups so there is no excuse... right coach?) Man I don’t even know where to start! This month of April has been both freakin’ sweet and freakin’ hard! We’ve had a baptism, tons of finding and tons of appointments, exchanges, you name it, it happened! I also found probably my new favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon!
This transfer has been the fastest I’ve had thus far and sho! it went by fast haha but I guess the big news is that Elder Smith is leaving his beloved "greenie" area tomorrow and being sent somewhere that, according to President Omer, "is a wonderful area" so I can’t go wrong right?? Man that’s all I’ve been able to think about this whole weekend is how much of a change it’s all going to be! A new comp, area, ward, people, cultures, flat, transportation situation, etc. I’ve been able to keep telling myself that change=growth so I’m looking forward to it all and will face it with a smile and humble heart so I can learn all that I have to learn! However, this experience is bittersweet and so I very much have mixed emotions. Bitter because I love this place! Central Jozi is the place to be! It’s crazy yeah and a bit dangerous but I got to serve in both of THE Johannesburg wards; the latter being the City itself! I’m very lucky and with that assignment have been able to make very many friends with members and investigators alike. It’s bitter because I have to leave all these people I’m close with; my families away from my family! Elder Raymond and I have also grown super close as we have struggled to rebuild this area and get it pumping again (when we got here, the previous missionaries that we both replaced were only teaching 4-5 lessons a week and this past week we finished with 21 lessons). It’s been hard and we've had to find unique ways of finding (you can’t tract in town, too dangerous) but we have made it work! Finding in parks was our go to and it was successful because we went from a teaching pool of 3 to a pool of 15+ QUALITY investigators! Like I said, I've been very lucky and blessed to have served here! It is a sweet experience though because it means I am progressing on mission! As Elder Matos and I always talked about, progression is an eternal principle and so we've always got to move forward! I’m excited to see what the rest of my mission has in store for me and the people that the Lord has for me to meet and learn from! Again, I’m blessed!
Some other fun news from elder Raymond's side of transfers is that he will be staying and training for his first time! He is super excited with the trust that has been given to him and is anxious to teach his "son" the best that he can! I’m excited for him as well:) Raymond is a solid guy and a great friend that I am lucky to have learned from and worked along-side!
Like I said, this month, on the 20th, we had another baptism in the 1st ward! Ruth Mayimbi (DRC) was baptized by her Husband Alpha and then confirmed a member of the church yesterday! That is a cool story for sure! Sis. Ruth and Alpha were married up in Congo and he came back down to work to save up money to move her down here (he is Congolese but has lived in SA for a while). So she came down here and she wanted to be baptized because she didn’t have the chance before she left Congo. So elder Matos and I began teaching her and preparing her for baptism! The cool part was that sis. Ruth couldn’t speak English and we sure couldn’t say more than "bonsoir, comment ça va?" haha So Bro. Alpha helped us to translate. It was so cool to see the love he had for his wife that was made evident thru the way he translated and made sure that she understood every principle! she progressed towards the date and Elder Raymond and I finished teaching her and she was ready for baptism but was already converted to the gospel:) they are now preparing for the temple in 1 year to be sealed for time and all eternity! The thing I will not forget about this unique teaching experience is the fact that no matter what language you do/don’t speak, the Holy Ghost works on ALL people and in a "language" that is understandable to all that will humble themselves and seek for the truth believing that they can and will find it!
Other than that, Raymond and I have been finding, finding, finding and as a result, teaching, teaching, teaching!! Haha we have been able to sort thru all the jokers and find father-led families and all sincere seekers of the truth! One of those guys' names is Michael Ndlovu. Mike found us in Pieter Roos Park as we were contacting and he stopped skating and ran over to Elder Kusi-Poku (Ghana) and I (we were on exchanges at the time) and asked if we were guys who talked about God; we said "yes we do!" From there he proceeded to tell us a story about how some Satanists were also going around the park telling people like him and his friends that there was no God and that Satan had all the power and all that rubbish. So Mike was confused because he didn’t go to church but he still kind of had a belief in God and now he was confused! So he asked us how we could help and we talked about how faith and strengthening what faith we have can help us withstand even the hardest influences of the devil.; right at that moment, my mind turned to the story of Sherem in the 7th chapter of Jacob in the BoM. So I followed the prompting that I had and said something to the effect of "hey man, how about we read a story from this book about a similar situation?" and he agreed. Once we had read thru verse 20, he said "wow, that’s exactly what’s happening now! Where can I buy this book!?" and we told him it was free, mahala (SA slang = free of charge) and that it was his! From there, he started reading and praying and even loves the story of Joseph Smith and is currently praying to know whether or not it’s true. He came to church yesterday as well and said "I loved it man! It feels so good!" but he has definitely been my friend and is preparing to be baptized on the 8th of June:) YO! I love this work!!
Mission life is great! I get to work with and under some great leaders here in the Africa South-East Area and we even get to interact with the Area Presidency! In fact, Elder Renlund was in our ward a couple Sundays ago so that was pretty cool! As well, President Omer is an inspired man of God and a very humble Christ-like servant who wants the best for all of God's children. When we get the chance to interview with him, I can just feel the love he and the Savior have for me! The interviews are very reverent and spiritual moments that I hold closely and am very much thankful for.
I’ve gotten the chance to go on several exchanges with our DL (District Leader) and with his companion and those are always fun! I get to see new areas and meet new people and also learn from different teaching styles! I’m also getting better at driving on the wrong side of the road! ;)
But guess what!? If any of you remember a conference talk by Elder Ochoa a couple of conferences ago where he talked about South Africa? Specifically about a boy named Thabiso who was in the Priests Quorum in the Kagiso ward? Well, the other day Elder Raymond and I met Thabiso as he was working at the BK in Park Station! Haha small world of the church I guess:)
But man this month in our SAJM BOM challenge I found one of, if not my favorite chapter in the book of Mormon! As I was praying to start my study, I asked if I could read and gain an insight into something that I could apply right at that specific point in time. Then I opened up and started reading in Alma 26; which has become my favorite! Ammon takes this time to praise the Lord and to Boast not in his strength, but in the strength, goodness, and mercy of our Heavenly Father! I felt like I could immediately relate to that because in verses 11-37, it’s exactly how a missionary feels!! I love verse 22, echo the thoughts of the latter part of v. 16, and in v. 27, we learn what we can do when anything gets rough. And like Grandma Richards would say "It’s all worth it!" in verse 30. I encourage all of you who get the opportunity to read that and reflect upon the whole chapter because I guarantee that it will be worth your time! And for those that don’t have the opportunity, remember that excuses are 10 pushups and make the opportunity for yourselves!
I love you guys and hope to hear from you soon in letters :) Cheers!
Tha’s ‘bout it!
-Elder David Spencer "Tony" Smith