Guest Testimonies

Saturday, June 21, 2014

"...Johannesburg City is too dangerous for missionaries!" (alternately titled "...I love all the fatherly figures I have in my life.")

“...And now to Elder Smith with the Mission Update.”
“Well guys we have a pretty crazy week happening here in the South Africa Johannesburg mission. News highlights for you include Johannesburg areas getting closed down by a member of the Area Seventy, Father’s Day, transfer updates, Elder Smith can drive, and a cancelled temple trip. Stay tuned....”
Haha it’s a good thing I haven’t run out of bad blog openings ne!? Haha This week has been very eventful! Starting with transfers that happened on Tuesday! Our whole district still stayed together for another transfer which is nice! Me and Stilgoe are getting along better and better and Kewuti and Graham are still working hard and seeming to get along as well. The other guys in the flat next to us had some changes though; my mission brother (trained by Matos) went DL, Raymond and his son got Joburg 2 closed and are now opening Sebokhang 2 in the south part of the mission. Man that bummed me out for sure! Both of the areas I’ve served in now are closed -_____- I guess the Lord has some purpose to bring about that I don’t know about! Still a shame though, I hope those who are on baptism date don’t fall through and that the Ward can handle it all. And that even brings me to the next crazy part of the week. In district meeting we got an SMS from another area in the Joburg zone saying that ALL the Joburg areas were now closed!!!! =O WHAAAAAATT!?!?!? They pulled Elder Dalton and his companion out of Joburg 1 and now all 3 of the Joburg areas are closed! I called him up and found out that Elder Cook from the Quorum of the Seventy heard about what happened to Elder Raymond and closed the areas because Johannesburg city is too dangerous for missionaries. It makes sense having served there for 5 months but man that news is just crazy! I’ve heard that the church will be doing some surveillance to see how to move along the work there in Jozi. Crazy stuff!! And on top of that bad news, we found out that the Benoni Zone’s temple trip this transfer (we get one every-other transfer) is cancelled :l Duhhh! Haha What’s going on these days! We are hoping that it will just be re-scheduled instead of cancelled.
                But “enough of the poopy stuff”, it’s time for the cool stuff!!! Like first, I finally got my permission to drive so I’m back behind the wheel :) and secondly but most importantly, Father’s Day on Sunday!!!!!!!!!! And from the Daveyton District of Stilgoe, Smith, Kewuti, and Graham, we wish all of you fathers a HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And from my side, man I don’t know how to put it other than I don’t know how I would have gotten this far in life, much less mission without my Dad, someone who has been there for me from before day one. How blessed I am to have a dad who loves his family enough to have prepared himself even before his family. I think it sets such a cool example for all of us sons and daughters to live in a way that when we start families of our own, we have solid a foundation to start upon. And so I don’t brag too much but all I need to say is that I love my dad with all my heart! As well, I love all the fatherly figures that I have in my life. From my Grandpas and Uncles to my Lacrosse Coaches and Priesthood Leaders/Teachers and everyone in between, I have been blessed to have “fathers” in my life that have taught me valuable lessons. I express the feelings of many when I say thank you for everything you have done in our lives!
Well, tha's 'bout it!
-Elder Spencer "Tony" Smith

Monday, June 16, 2014

"most of the room got emotional, even though we were all "too tough" to admit that we were crying"

Whaddup Whaddup Whaddup!!
My name is Elder Smith and this is my companion Elder Stilgoe. We are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we have a pretty cool update from the streets of Daveyton for you guys this week. We had a pretty freakin great time here in these last few weeks! We’ve been preparing for a big finding activity that we’re having on Saturday at the chapel, we’ve had zone conference, we’ve finished the South Africa Johannesburg Mission 86-day Book of Mormon reading challenge, and been forwarding the work of salvation in our lives as well as the lives of the people we interact with.
                So i guess i should start from the beginning eh? So since ive been here, my companion has had the cool idea to do a fireside/activity at the church to help us bring the church “out of obscurity” if you will, here in Daveyton and to help us find people! So after getting approval from the leaders in the ward and stake, we put our heads together and organized the “Unified in CHRIST” open house! We will be inviting everyone to the open house on the 7th june to come closer to Christ by learning about the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We know that there are alot of churches here in Daveyton (and SA) and most of us have the common belief in our Savior Jesus Christ! So we felt that a night where everyone who is or wants to be “unified in Christ” can come and learn more about him! So in these past two weeks we’ve been handing out flyers and posting posters (i’ll include a picture) ALL around Daveyton! We’ve been taking them to our members, investigators, random people on the street, and (my personal favourite) to all the churches/congregations and pastors here in D-town to invite them and their congregations to the activity! Its been going very well inviting people and many of the pastors have been giving them to their congregations because we are unified in Christ! As i write this now, it hasn’t happened yet but from the feedback we’re getting from the people we’ve invited and from the members who are inviting friends, its sounding like itll turn out really well! As far as the events of the night, when people come, they will be greeted at the chapel and given a copy of the Book of Mormon, a Restoration Pamphlet, a Pass-along card, and a sheet to write their personal questions on. We’ll be holding it in the chapel and so we’ll start with hymn and prayer and my companion will conduct and welcome everyone who came. From there he’ll introduce everyone and give a layout of the night. We’ll be teaching about the true nature of God, how the Gospel blesses families, the need for prophets, the Savior’s time here on earth, and the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Each of us missionaries and our ward mission leader are each teaching a topic and have prepared the simple truths and doctrine of our unique message. And since we don’t want it to turn into a “bible-bash”, we will kindly ask that the people who attend who have questions of comments, write them down. We’re also going to be passing around a sign up sheet so that those who do have questions can give us their details and we can give them a visit and answer their questions in a more personal setting in their homes. We’re then going to conclude our night by having a tour of our building so that everyone can know what goes on in “that building that [they] always see when they drive down the main street.” It sounds really good on paper, in our minds, and is getting good feedback from Pres. Omer, our leaders, members and non-members alike! We’re just fasting and praying and studying so that it can hopefully touch at least that 1 person that Heavenly Father is preparing!
*I’ll add onto the blog post after the activity itself :) *
                This past Tuesday we were able to have zone conference! Man that was a bittersweet experience. It was President and Sister Omer’s last zone conf. On their mission and so aat the bearing of their testimonies, most of the room got emotional, even though we were all “too tough” to admit that we were crying. President delivered a very powerful talk on the Book of Mormon (as we finished the challenge) and the restoration. I took some notes of the meeting and my impressions and i want to share some of them:
                He put a picture of the first vision on the projector and asked us what Jospeh Smith was thinking when this happened. As we answered, Pres. Omer then posed the question: “what do you think the perspective of the Father and the Son was on the morning of the first vision?” wow, what a powerful question that i’ve never even considered! Some of my thoughts were about the Joy that they must have been feeling as one of their sons who had been foreordained and prepared from the foundation chose to exercise his agency righteously and ask in faith to start the wonderful turn of events that would become the restoration. It then led me to think how happy they are when WE exercise our agency righteously! Other points were mentioned but President then came to point out that there must have been joy and anticipation concerning that morning as both the Gathering of Israel and the Abrahamic covenant were being fulfilled! We then started talking about how the BoM, the result and evidence of the restoration was THE tool for gathering scattered Israel and that, in the words of Isaiah, we must be “swift messengers” of the truth! And indeed we must be swift! Time isn’t really an option anymore as we near the coming of our savior! As we look to 1 nephi 15:18, we see that we are currently living that! President Omer taught a very good lesson :)
                From there we then had quick lessons from sister Omer on being faithful and responsible stewards of our Heavenly Father’s things that we are given to help us on our mission and i strengthened my resolve to be better at doing my dishes and keeping tidy haha its been struggling a little ;P but then a lesson from the APs about using the Book of Mormon to answer our own and our investigators “questions of the soul”. That was a very nice lesson because we all got to participate and share from what we gained in our BoM challenge as it pertained to those questions.
                The conference then came to a close and President and Sister Omer bore their testimonies. I cannot find the words to accurately describe the spirit we felt as they did so or as President left us with a blessing. All i can say is that I KNOW the Lord calls his most faithful servants to lead this missionary work and he inspires them to do and say what we all need to hear! I know that is true for President and Sis. Omer and i know that itll be true for the Dunns when they arrive and become our new Mission President and mother on the 30th of this month. It has been all of our privilege to serve with them and especially for me, I can say that i love President with all my heart :) Zone conference all in all was great and, once again, i soaked it all up like learning from “Beardy” (James Beardmore) at EMW Lax camp! Haha
                Wow so tonight was our finding activity and yo yo yo it was sooo cool! After lots of preparation and prayer and fasting (alma 17:2-3) we were able to teach a group of about 30 people! 18 of which were non-members and not already investigators! Man the spirit was so strong and we all taught with the power and authority of God as the Holy ghost was able to testify through our words and the testimonies shared! One of our less active members came, a guy named Sipho November and he  brought with him about 8 of his friends to hear what we had to say! What a blessing for a guy who is struggling with his testimony to be doing missionary work on that level! And esp. With a crowd that most people would just disregard as “not open to gospel”. So far we have 2 new investigators from it and hopefully  many seeds were planted that need to be! We do have faith and trust that everything that happened there tonight was by the Grace of our Lord. Whether we are here to see the fruits of the activity or they take time and other missionaries, we all 4 KNOW that the Lord prepared all of those people to hear what they heard tonight. Whatever is going on their lives (and even in ours) the Lord is in it to provide us the opportunities to use our agency to come closer to Christ! That is the truth!!
                Mission life is going by great tho! We are sitting here waiting for the transfer news to see if Stilgoe stays or goes. Personally, i wish that he stays and signs are pointing to it because he has no reason to leave but whatever happens will be good. We have had such a good time here as friends and companions thats fa sho! But like i said earlier, whatever happens, the Lord will be in it! Also, as a mission we were able to finish the BOM challenge this week and i slacked for a bit during the middle but i plan on finishing this week and ill be writing my tetstimony in the back of that blue softback copy of the BOM that we used and i will send an email of my testimony of that wonderful book of scripture. It truly is life changing.
                YO yo yo YO! Elder Cetraro, you’re not “Elder” anymore!!!! =O haha WHAAAA!?!?! Yo cuz how does it feel to be home!? How does it feel to have found yourself after losing yourself!? Man so many great things about mission that i cant wait to hear from you as i am able to, like always, follow closely in your footsteps and learn as im sure you did. Yo mission is great ne? Enjoy being home my friend and know that i have taken your advice to just throw myself into the work and to work hard :) till we meet again! Cheers!
*Transfer news results*
The daveyton district is staying the same for another transfer!!!! None of us are leaving and the saga continues!! :) siiiiiiick!

And in other news, eish, my last companion just got his second incident in jozi this last week. Last Saturday, E. Raymond got mugged in hillbrow and then Saturday night a guy broke his side car window with his gun and had it in raymond’s ribs for a good 30 seconds and he says he is now traumatized (hmmm i wonder why!?!?) but thanks to his companions driving and reactions to the spirit, they got away without any gunshout wounds. Crazy stuff! ‘sall good doe, im in ekasi baba!

Till next time :)
Tha's 'bout it!
 -Elder David Spencer “Tony” Smith