Guest Testimonies

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Even in the face of very apparent danger, if we stick up for what we believe we will be okay. (A multimedia presentation!)

               Here’s Elder Smith coming right at ya with his own typie! Haha I don’t know what I did to deserve such a great gift for my birthday but I hope that the words that I will be able to put into my weekly letters will be able to make this gift well worth it! But wow! What a hectic week! Both great and…less great happened to us this week and so buckle up, grab your popcorns (yes, multiple popcorns, that’s how we do it here ;) ) and enjoy the week in this unique day-by-day perspective (something happened almost every day so here we go!)
                Monday: since I’ve been sick for 9 weeks, Sis. Dunn and I decided that it was about time that I recovered and got well. So I had an appointment Monday morning at the doctor office with the concern of whether or not I had TB… its prevalent enough here in SA and I have been coughing for 9 weeks so it’s only natural (but stressful, can you imagine? Eish it was a trip). So anyway, Dr Van Niekerk was telling me that I could get a chest x-ray, skin test, or even an expensive fluid test but he didn’t think that I had it so at first I felt good. But then when he was checking me out and getting vitals, he got stern and suggested: “I think you’d better get a chest x-ray.”  “Oh great, that’s what you said I needed if you thought I had TB” is the thought that went thru my head as I went across to the radiology room to get my x-rays. So that’s what I got to stress about until 3:30 p. when I saw him again that same day (keep in mind that I had to spend my precious p-day hours doing all this stuff). Luckily, he examined the x-ray and said I don’t have TB but that if I take these prescriptions, I’ll be a better man. Sign me up! I’ll be a better man! Haha well, what he didn’t mention is that like in the Ekurhuleni municipality, there was like no pharmacy that had these pills :/ and I got to spend 1.5 hours driving around finding no luck (still on p-day.. haha) luckily, thanks to the help of an amazing mission mom, I was able to get my medicine! And so I’m TB free and on the way to being a “better man”. This crazy Monday set the tone for the rest of the week!
                Tuesday: well, time to add to the list of crazy events. And as I relate the beginning of our proselyting time, keep in mind that no matter how stupid it may sound as you read it, this was extremely scary. So remember Samuel from my last 1 or 2 posts? The super prepared guy that bore his testimony at his first time at church? And stopped smoking and drinking after reading the pamphlet? Well we went to visit him and here is what happened to the best of my memory (maybe check Clegg’s version if I miss any details). We walked in and it was Samuel and his friend sitting in the main room. So we greeted (the friend only spoke Sotho at this point) and sat down to begin our visit. He seemed caught off guard and told us that he was expecting a call for our next appt. even though the time we were there was the appointment we had set with him. So we offered to reschedule when he would be ready but he said, “no don’t waste energy since you’re here we can pray.” Now, normally I would have been like, “okay sweet, we get to teach another lesson!” but for some reason my mouth just started talking and again asked if we could reschedule and come another time (not knowing what we would do in the meantime). And for the 2nd time he insisted that we sit and stay. So then I asked who would pray for us and it was like someone flipped a switch and Samuel’s whole attitude changed. He asked, “how did Jesus Christ teach His apostles to pray?” and so we tried to answer but were cut off by another, more strict “HOW did Jesus Christ teach His apostles to pray!?” and this process repeated about 4-5 times as each time he didn’t listen to us but got more aggressive and started throwing pamphlets on the table. This is when I got the sickest feeling in my stomach but more on that later. His friend now chimed in and started speaking Sotho so we didn’t know what he was saying (add that stress and worry) but Samuel got up and went into the other room to fill up a glass bottle with water. Anyway, he came back in, slammed the bottle on the table and went and shut and bolted the door shut. Now here is the reason for the sickness in the stomach: I realized that 1-we were now locked in the house of a 2-man who has been in/out of prison and 3-is getting mad and aggressive and thanks to the slamming of the bottle on the table, 4-there is an open knife on the table… for those of you who don’t know a lot about SA, knives are worse than guns; especially in the hands of a aggressive ex-con. So for what felt like an eternity, my stomach was in knots. Only 2 times previous have I felt that way and they were both when a gun was involved. So after this eternity of being fearful, I realized that I didn’t need to be! We weren’t doing anything wrong and we were simply here to proclaim a message of hope; so why did I lose my hope!? I realized that fear and faith aren’t the same thing so I changed  my fearful prayers (you’d better believe I was praying from the start) into faithful prayers and I felt the fear in my stomach just  go away. There are promises given to us as missionaries and I’ve seen the evidence of guardian angels many times in my 9 months here so I knew I had no reason to fear what would happen but to have faith that the Lord would deliver us from any harm. So now that the fear was gone but the adrenaline was still very up, Clegg and I were communicating via looks and it was clear that both of us were trying to find a way out. During this whole time, Samuel and his friend are just spitting the most false doctrine and getting mad at us for “lying” to him about how Jehovah isn’t Jesus Christ and that its really God and how we shouldn’t pray to him cause he gets annoyed and how Jehovah taught how we can drink but not get drunk and all this JW doctrine * (see * below.) But Clegg has the stroke of genius to hand me the phone with a message typed in Spanish “vamos?” (I thought this was very wise because they could’ve grabbed our phone and if they read it and understood, who knows what they would have done but they didn’t know Spanish.) So now me and Clegg were on the same page and I had the phone and an idea. So as I’m keeping eye-contact with Samuel and his friend, (who are both drunk we’ve figured out….didn’t they just say “drink but not get drunk?” Anyways…) I am sending “Please Call” requests to Daveyton 2 like crazy! And then I put the phone in my pocket and waited for the return call. Again, another eternity has passed but the phone finally rang! I pulled it out of my pocket and answered and pulled the biggest fake call I could muster haha! I made it sound like the other missionaries were in trouble and that, since we had the car, could we come get them now-now (South African slang for “immediately!”) (Poor Elder Melese was pretty confused on the other end of the line haha). So Clegg and I picked up our bags and walked right out and without a return appointment but with Samuel saying “I’ll come to church and testify of the truth.” Alright buddy, you do that. At least we were out! We then went to the other guys and told Elder Bizimana (the District Leader) what happened and then called President Dunn and told him as well. CRAZY! And it sounded so crazy and even dumb every time we retold the story but eish, at least from my side, it was super scary. And upon reflection, I was trying to think about what the Lord could have been teaching me in that situation and these are the things I got: He was teaching me that “faith is the antidote for fear!” and that I have no need to fear when we have many things on our side protecting us! It was almost like a 2 Kings 6:15-18 Kasi edition! He was also teaching me about courage to stand up for the truth! Even in the face of very apparent danger, if we stick up for what we believe we will be okay. There was a time where I didn’t really stick up for what I believed and that moment still pains me today. It has moved me to greater courage to stand up and let my light shine and be an example and all those things. During the course of being yelled at for “lying” to Samuel, there was a big temptation to be apologetic and deny the things we taught. I mean this guy was angry and if you’ve been to prison here you know how to use a knife; pretty big temptation right? But the painful memory came to my mind and I knew that I could not deny what I knew to be true. So during the course of this “lesson”, if you can call it that, I did not deny the truth that I knew and believed. We bore testimony that what we had taught him was what we knew and believed to be the truth and reminded him that we had simply invited him to pray! So reflecting upon that period of time made me glad and gave me strength in knowing that if we stick up for what we know, we can and will speak with the tongue of angels, or by the power of the Holy Ghost.  And all throughout the rest of the week, I’ve been lucky enough to see how the lessons the Lord taught me on Tuesday were and are preparing me for bigger and possibly tougher situations; here goes nothing!
*We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. –A of F #11
                Wow, Tuesday was a long day and that whole deal only lasted 45 min. Haha! Anyway moving on!
                Wednesday: actually nothing huge happened on Wednesday except the Lord gave us a huge opportunity to serve! We had a fairly normal day and were coming off a super sweet 6:00 lesson where this new family had kept their commitments to pray about the Book of Mormon! It was sweet cause they’ve noticed the difference around their yard since we’ve been coming and they’ve been reading! So we were happy and we were going to finish our day by visiting a less active family, the Mabodlas, that lives in a far part of our area called Chris Hani. When we got there, we found out that their son had passed away and was being buried on Saturday. Elder Clegg shared a wonderful scripture in Mosiah 16:6-9 about how the sting of death is swallowed up because of the Atonement! It was a very comforting spirit that accompanied his words and testimony.  :)  We were very blessed to have been able to have the kilometers to visit this family and find out about this tragedy because no one from the ward knew about it at that point but luckily the tender mercies of the Lord are on all of His children! So we were able to report that to the bishop and get the most help for this family.
              Thursday: now Thursday was the promised day!!! Why? Because the Zone leaders came and I got my medicine! As well as my birthday package!!!!!!!! =D =D =D 
The Birthday Package!
          Eish, it killed me to have to wait till I got home to open it but I made it and thankfully I was able to push it out of my mind during lessons haha. I was extremely overwhelmed at the size of it, overwhelmed that the Youlton family would be so amazing to bring it all the way from West Jordan for me, :) and even more overwhelmed at the presents inside!! And what was more meaningful than the items themselves was the thought and love that went behind EVERY single one of them! Typie; rechargeable batteries for my camera; A USB with music, Mormon messages, photos and conference talks; USB recorder for blog posts and music recording :) ; toooooo much food stuffs (birthday cake mix, stuffing, CAPN CRUNCH!!, seasonings and sauce mixes)!!!! Haha and American sweets (jolly ranchers, lifesavers, Werthers, Sees pops, and Sue Greene’s lollys! Thank you!!)!!! Plus it was really funny to see Elder Bizimana (from Rwanda) eat Pop Rocks and to see his face haha :) I also got stuff to make a belated birthday party; (balloons, candles, and a sign that reminds me that I’m 20!) as well as a Frisbee from dad; personal lax ball from Lou; amazing drawing from Bekah; Liahona magazines; guitar pics; lacrosse stickers; lax pictures so people can see what sport I play haha; my Nike hoodie; and my work gloves for when we give service. I can’t believe how spoiled am! Now you can see why I was overwhelmed! And again I just have to point out how there was personal meaning behind each of those gifts! And the ones that probably brought the most love were the pictures and thoughts from my family! I got 36 minutes worth of mission stories from my dad! I got a picture of the Savior! I got a picture of Grandpa Richards and me the night before I left for SA with the caption “companions” because he is watching my back :) THANK YOU! NGIYABONGA! REALEBOGA! Is there a bigger word that Thank you? Does it mean more in Zulu or Sotho? Either way I am very thankful  :) It was so much more than I could have asked for and it definitely made my Thursday GREAT!  Thank you to Brother and Sister Youlton for making that birthday package happen.  :)

                Friday: THE coolest experience! Especially coming off listening to my dad’s story about being arrested in France and then giving away 4 copies of the Book of Mormon! You’ll have to listen to the audio recording from my USB for the story :) We’re getting crazy adding sound dynamics to the blog! Haha!  It truly was the coolest!! Ahh the Lord is Great! This gospel is true!! Now go listen! Oh and Gogo Mhlanga signed the papers for her house to be the new meeting place for the church in Daveyton East (Chris Hani, Sgodi, etc)!!
                Saturday: Today was a great chance for us to give more service as well as have a new cultural experience known as the African funeral. We were all 4 able to go to the Mabodla’s son’s funeral and I’m glad we did because we were the only ones from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were there. Even though we were late, we still got to give our love and love from the bishop and ward as well as help with the dishes! Haha- There is a lot of food served for everyone at funerals here so there were a ton of dishes!! All hand washed in tubs out back by the missionaries :)  Haha! We had fun and we hope it helped the family by taking it off their minds. Maybe they’ll decide to come back to church! Saturday we also got rain and lightning so it was just super cool! The rain is probably my favorite part of the summer!!
                Sunday:  Ahh the Sabbath day :) My favorite day of the week for sure! Being able to go to church and be spiritually recharged for the upcoming week is soo necessary! And I’m glad I’ve been able to learn that here because I’ll take that home with me and keep the importance of Sunday in my mind. We had the amazing experience of 3 baptisms in Daveyton 2!  Thoriso and Kewaka Molefa and Excellent Mavodze were baptized today and the service was very nice and the spirit very strong as we got to witness these people commit to follow Christ for the rest of eternity! Its times like this that make me excited for 1-being a missionary but also for 2-knowing that if we endure to the end after priesthood ordinances, we can live with God again! Is there a greater reward? Is there anything more we can do during our 4 minutes? (“Your Four Minutes” –Bishop Gary E. Stevenson) Remember that we’ll have eternity to look back! Let’s look back on a gold medal performance :)
                WHEW! There is the week for ya! Haha pretty long eh? It was a great week and I’m now looking forward to a great p-day and even better week! Haha I’ve got some cracks on my grammar (or lack thereof) so I hope this makes sense! Haha I already know there are spelling errors and grammatical inconsistencies but what else is new? I haven’t spoken proper English since I got here and I’m proud of it! :P Haha! I love you guys :) Carry on back home and remember to follow the spirit in ALL things! God indeed IS in the details of our lives! :) 
Love, Elder David Spencer “Tony” Smith
                PS. I LOVE YOU MOM AND DAD! :)