Guest Testimonies

Monday, October 5, 2015

Excuse me, did anyone see where I put the last 2 years of my life?

with his new companion, Elder Manuma
Eish this week has been a fast one but a great one! Especially the weekend we had some cool lessons, heard some great things and are looking forward to even more great things!
                We had several lessons with an investigator named Lucky. Now, Brother Lucky is a sweet guy whose sister is a member. This week we’ve been teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and today (Sunday) we finished it. After concluding, Elder Manuma asked Bro. Lucky how he felt about what we had shared with him. He understood the seriousness of it all and the impact that it would have on his life. His faith was an example to me as he said, “I’m thankful you guys are letting me pray about this because this is something that’s big. This is something that I’ll have to follow for the rest of my life if I get my answer.” So often, I think people don’t quite grasp the concept of gospel living and all that it entails and when a baptismal invitation is given, they just say, “Sure!” Now, a positive response is good but 10 times out of 10 I would rather teach someone like Bro. Lucky who understands the covenant we make at baptism and wants to make sure he’s doing it for the right reasons. At the close of that lesson after his sister bore a very cool testimony, he asked if I would pray and, “include me and my desire to know the way from God.” Sho, it was a great experience! Many good lessons this week but I would have to say that was my favorite!
                The Soweto stake gets to view General Conference next week in Pimville but we did hear who the 3 new Apostles were! It’s pretty cool that when Elder Renlund was serving in the Area Presidency here in the Africa Southeast area, I got to be in the same sacrament meeting as him! Haha funny little “claims to fame” that we have in the church eh? :P But speaking of keeping good company with people in the church, today we were invited to the home of Elder Mdletshe who is an Area Seventy who lives in the Florida ward of our stake. He works for the CES and has his office at the Roodepoort chapel so when he heard that I was leaving and that our District Leader also has his same surname, he invited us over to his house for lunch! What a great guy and his family was awesome as well! So we got permission from our ZLs and went there today after church for a nice lunch and lesson. Haha I know Area Seventies are no different church members than you or I but after being with the Chatora family in Centurion and now here in Joburg, the pressure always seems a bit higher when it’s your turn to share the lesson haha. But it went well! The spirit was strong and we all learned a bit more about having our hopes motivate us and give us the anchor we need to get through this life and share the gospel with those we love and interact with. And one more cool fact, Elder Mdletshe was the first black South African missionary to serve a mission for the church! He served in the England London South mission in 1985 so that’s pretty cool! He’s one of the pioneers of the church for the black people of SA.
                Other cool things that happened…  three brothers who were baptized last week were confirmed today and also sustained to receive the Aaronic priesthood and 3 members received their endowments on Saturday including one of our ward missionaries who leaves in like 2 weeks for Botswana/Namibia/Pretoria mission! Also, we had interviews with President Dunn and all he could talk about was me going home haha crazy:P He made a funny analogy though about thinking about home. He said that an airplane, when landing doesn’t all of the sudden drop out o the air until 30m above the ground. No, he glides in slowly and smoothly descending. So it is with me and that I shouldn’t worry about thoughts of home just as long as I don’t dwell on them. Eish, that time is less than a month away….
                …Excuse me, did anyone see where I put the last 2 years of my life? They seem to have disappeared. If you find them let me know ;)
Cheers tho hey?
-Elder Smith
Sister Lebo's Baptism

Johannesburg temple gardens

with Elder Lea'aetoa at the temple

Brother Llewellyn wasn't best pleased with Elder Smith's transfer news.
Brother Llewellyn hosts the missionaries in his garden flat.  

Monday, September 28, 2015

The storal of the mory is stay true to what you believe, ask the Lord to help you in pursuit of truth and remain hopeful!

I've had to draw a lot of strength from the Book of Mormon this past week. Its been a rough week with cancellation after cancellation leaving us with no other option but to tract or contact in the heat of the day. I’ve read about Alma, Amulek, the sons of Mosiah, Alma’s sons and all of their missionary work and most recently about the people of Nephi as they are encompassed in war with the Lamanites. It's pretty cool how their examples can have real life impact on us today; especially me here in SA. There are a couple lessons that I’ve learned that I’d like to share.
                The first one kind of carries over from my last 2 areas of Krugersdorp and Centurion. Both affluent towns, the missionary work and people are different from what I'm experiencing now in Soweto. Then, we dealt with a lot of anti-Mormon claims and accusations which caused a lot of doubt to our investigators and even the missionaries. So what I loved from the examples of missionary work in the Book of Mormon are how the Sons of Mosiah and Alma and Amulek responded when faced by people like the unbelieving Lamanites, Korihor, and Zeezrom is how they stood their ground. Imagine, when a lawyer who knows the language of the people tries to twist words and doctrines to suit them how hard it would be to respond when the spotlight is on you and your companion. Or when people straight up deny the Christ. What I saw in them and what helped me to press forward is that they didn’t give up or give in. And ultimately, after the trial of their faith, they saw, and even produced, miracles! So the storal of the mory is stay true to what you believe, ask the Lord to help you in pursuit of truth and remain hopeful!
                Another cool lesson I’ve been learning has occurred this week, and I don't think I'm done learning it either! haha. Eish its been a rough week like I said. People have dropped through, it's been HOT, and motivation has been on the waning side. So what did we do? Unfortunately there were some times where we didn’t use our time as valuably as we should have but fortunately, we pressed on and did our tracting and finding and working with the ward members! So we’re happy that we didn’t just totally flop but even today (Saturday) we’re battling to keep hope and faith and motivation. So I was reading about the stripling warriors and the armies of the Nephites when they take back their cities from the Lamanites in Alma 55-59. With the Lord’s help they were able to pull off some miracles but when it came time to hold on to those things, they were in desperate need of reinforcements and didn’t receive much help. Haha it's kind of like us! Last week was so awesome with great miracles but now that its time to hold onto those things, Elder Manuma and I feel like we need some serious reinforcements! So it's up to us to do like Helaman in Alma 58:9-12 by pouring out our hearts to God to ask Him for help in retaining our works and delivering us from the temptations that are directly related to our purification challenge. So a greater part of peace has come to our hearts, or at least to my heart knowing that all I have to worry about is working hard and not giving up or being lazy and the trial will continue until the Lord sees fit but He won't leave us alone. I truly believe he will buoy me up in some great way this weekend and who knows, maybe next week y’all’ll get the update of the cool things that will happen!
                So yeah, just another testimony that the Book of Mormon is written for us today and no matter what situation we are in, we NEED it! But yeah, keep us in your prayers please- we would love that! Pray that we can have the mental and physical strength to press forward in righteousness!! Cheers!
Elder Smith

Monday, September 21, 2015

Purification in 42 Easy Days!

Elder Smith was released as Zone Leader after seven months and transferred to Pimville in Soweto for his last transfer.  Here he is with his new, and last, companion, Elder Manuma.

Purification in 42 easy days!
                Here in the SAJM, all the elders were issued the “purification challenge” for the Sept/Oct transfer. Put simply, we are purifying ourselves of 3-4 specific things that don’t allow the spirit to fully testify through us. Each companionship in the mission is assigned a day to fast, making a 42 day fast throughout the entire mission over the course of this transfer to help us purify ourselves.
                The story where the challenge originates comes from a missionary in Uruguay who describes his experience:
                “A member informed us that he had an investigator that was ready to be taught and he volunteered to attend the first discussion. The discussion went along as usual. At the conclusion, my companion and I bore witness of Joseph Smith and then turned to our friend. He paused for a moment, looked at the young lady and said, “I know that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God.” The room filled with an extraterrestrial force. The investigator started to cry.
                As we walked home, I was baffled. The man said the exact same words that we had said but the result was dramatically different. When he spoke he had an influence that we did not have. There was no question that the influence was the Holy Ghost, but this man seemed to have it in a different way...”
This elder goes on to describe how he searched for how he could gain the same power and eventually spoke to a well-known church leader who told him how he must purify himself to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. He said:
                Go home and fast for a day in the attitude of fasting and prayer. Make a list of every behaviour that ‘pokes’ at your spirit. Once you have made your list, then go to the Lord. Covenant with the Lord that you will fast from the things on your list for 42 days. In other words, for 42 days you will do nothing that appears on that list. You cannot just stop old behaviours and start new ones. You need the help of the Lord. Each morning go to the Lord and specifically promise Him that you will avoid each item on your list. Ask for His help so you can have extra strength. At night go over the list with the Lord, if you have failed on some items, figure out why. Tell the Lord. Ask for more strength the next day.”

So this is what we are doing! And its only been two days now but on Wednesday, Elder Manuma and I saw 2 investigators and the spirit was very strong in both lessons. It came to the point where they started crying as they felt the love of the Savior for them and the personal relevance of the plan of salvation. Nosipho, one of the sisters told us how she has felt for a while that this is the path that is right for her but that it just hasn’t been the right time until now. We explained that she could not only see her mom again but that she could live with her in the celestial kingdom forever! She was very attentive and then began to cry as we testified that her mom was being taught these same truths in the spirit world and was waiting for her. She then agreed to be baptized on the 11th of October! How sweet is that!? How great is the power of the spirit!! And how wonderful it is when we decide to humble ourselves to obedience and sanctification so we can carry the spirit more in our teaching! I love it! Pimville AND its missionaries will be totally different after 42 days! 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Happy 21st Birthday, Elder Smith!

 Many thanks to the Farquharson family who invited Elder Smith to celebrate with his favorite South African treat- Milk Tart, and gave him the opportunity to view videos from family and former companions, wishing him a happy birthday.
Milk Tart!
Our dear friends, Rachel & Michele Shaw, made sure Elder Smith had a birthday gift from his family by being our hands in South Africa.  And it looks like they all had a fun time with Llewellyn Von Broghan (the Elders live in Bro. Von Broghan's apartment next to his home.)


The video we made for Elder Smith

Morning workout routine?
Bro. Von Broghan trains the elders each morning and keeps them in shape!  

Monday, February 23, 2015

"I don’t fear what they can do to me at work, God needed me at church!"

Dearest Mother! (& everyone else!  You can use this for my blog cause I don’t have time to write one today :P)
Wow, this week has been crazy!  I’ve been super busy! And my mind is so scattered! But it’s a great scattered and a great crazy! Haha these new leadership calls really help me cause I think they help me "elevate my game" if you will. 
The newest Northwest Zone Companionship: Elder Smith & Elder Kairu.
Elder Kairu and I are already best friends! haha I love this guy! He is from Uganda but his dad is from Kenya. He is 23 years old and turned 20 months on mission today! We actually served in the same zone (Benoni) for 3 transfers when I was in Daveyton and he was in Kwa Thema. One cool thing is that he is from the tribe of Dan of the tribes of Israel! Isn’t that such a cool thing!? He joined the church like 5 years ago I think when he was studying to become a catholic priest! haha Needless to say, he is a powerful teacher and we WORK hard together! Zac was so right when he said I was more likely to get a comp who likes to work! THANK YOU! hahah I need it! But yeah I’m stoked to be his comp!  We’re learning the area together because he only had 1 transfer here and was only here some of the time because the other times he was on exchanges in the zone! 
These are the places within the Northwest Zone.  The elders live in Krugersdorp.
In our zone, the Northwest Zone, we start in Carletonville, and Khutsong, then up to Krugersdorp 1 & 2 with Roodepoort and Ruimsig (the APs area), then over to Randfontein and Munsieville and alllllll the way up in the northwest province to Rustenburg and Phokeng! We actually got to drive there on Friday after our temple trip to do a baptism interview! Haha we're busy!!! But we have good time in our own area to see miracles and do lots of great work! The biggest miracle is the father-led family which is the husband of our recent convert. He told us on Tuesday that he wanted to be baptized and then even ditched work yesterday to attend his wife's confirmation!!! When we saw them at their house afterwards, he said "I don’t fear what they can do to me at work, God needed me at church!" <---- that faith is inspiring!!! 
Ey this ward is AFRIKAANS with a capital A which is a cool thing but it’s weird cause I’ve never seen any white boys passing sacrament before and there were only like 13 black people in the congregation! How unique! But it’s great here! I love it! I hope that says a lot! I wanted to typie but literally I’ve had no time! haha I haven’t even had time for my journal!  (But don’t worry, I’ll update it)
Today we're looking to play soccer at Roodepoort with Pres. Dunn! Haha I’m stoked for that! and yes, a very good thing that I’m close to the office! :) 
One thing that sucks though is hearing the joking attitude about the “Month of Miracles” for 100% obedience. Some people just don’t get it! haha Oh well, it must be my place as ZL to learn how to love and inspire even the elders who don’t really like obedience! That’s what I’m most excited for is humbling myself and ministering to them. I hope I can do my best!
Eish I’m out of time! But I WILL have access to mail every week! So idk if people besides our family can send me a or letter instead of email cause I think I may not have time to email people other than my family.  :(
I love you mom :) I know it’s probably not nearly enough and you have even more questions but I hope I was detailed enough for you!!!
Elder & Sister Scott & Elder Smith (they were his mom & dad
for 4 1/2 months!)
I love you so much! 
Love, your boy Bursie
Elder Smith
This "posterity" is legendary in the South Africa Johannesburg Mission.
In the middle top row in the grey sweater is Elder Matos, Spencer's trainer and
the "Great-Grandfather."  From right to left on the bottom row is Spencer,
the "Grandfather" who trained Elder Clegg, the "Father" who trained Elder
Savage, the "Son."  We hope to get the rest of this "family history" so no one
is left out! 

Elder Kewuti shared a flat with Spencer
in Daveyton.  He is heading home to Cape Town, SA.
Elder Perez is heading home to St. George.
I wonder if Spencer ever "destroyed Elder Perez in Magic???"

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"The Lord knows ALL of His children and so he knows how to match them up so that the greatest good can be accomplished!" (Leaving Nelspruit)

Bandile Mdluli decided if I was leaving, he would
spend the rest of my mission with me, on my shoulders.  
Well, it never gets easier when it comes time to leave an area; especially when that area is Nelspruit. I think the emotions of leaving are then compounded by the fact that it was a total surprise that I would leave this transfer. It’s been rough saying goodbye for the last time and people telling you, “just ignore what he (President Dunn) says and stay here!” haha if only it worked that way :P
                I’ve learned that instead of being sad or bummed about it, it really helps to be thankful for everything that this area has taught me! I can say that the phrase: “you don’t teach town as much as town teaches you” is very consistent with Nelspruit and boy am I grateful for everything I learned! Being able to be with elders Kankkunen and Ah Wong as well as being with my other parents the Scotts and even the Kanyamazane elders and the Swans. Haha from day one up here I asked myself, “what did I do to get sent up here!?” and even 4 months later I still ask what I did. I guess if I had to answer it I could only say that the Lord knows ALL of His children and so he knows where, when and how to match them up in this mortal life so that the greatest good can be accomplished! (Moses 1:39) Haha, I laugh but maybe it’s to avoid some tears that want to come as I think about just how loving He is to us! Do we understand that? Maybe not fully but maybe we won’t ever understand it fully but we can sure catch glimpses here and there; my glimpse has been 4 months long :)
The last District Meeting Breakfast with the Nelspruit District.  R-L:  Elders
Kankkunen, Willombe, & Pulley, Me, Sister Scott, Elders Scott & Swan.  
                There is a lot that lies ahead of me and I look forward to it! Who knows where I’ll go and who I’ll be with but it’s nice to know it’ll be the right place to be. What really gets me is that the group that goes home tomorrow has some of my favorite missionaries! And I was there when they celebrated their year mark and here they are going home! What the heck!? Haha Elder Perez and Dalton from the Joburg district, Elder Reed from Joburg zone, my mission-grandfather Elder Lucking, and Elder Kewuti from Daveyton!! Eish, time won’t stop and it’s starting to be... scary! I want my two years back!
                We had a great (what I found out to be my last) week this week and I’d say an even greater weekend! We saw Ben and Thuli after like a week of no contact and after a follow-up lesson on prayer and praying about the BOM, we weren’t terribly satisfied with Ben’s answers just because I guess we wanted him to jump up and yell, “Its true!!” haha But what happened after was his wife looked back and forth between us and was kind of laughing. She looked at Ben and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about” then looked at us and continued, “He already SMS'd the pastor and told him we’re leaving that church.” Now it was time for me and Elder Kankkunen to jump up and yell “IT’S TRUE!!” hahaha Can you believe that!? All of the prayers and fasting have been paying off (and we’re keeping them up) to the point that they are making the transition between churches! Hahaha yes!!! I have no doubt that they will all be baptized as a family just because 3 missionaries decided to listen to the promptings of the Spirit! They came to church and participated fully yesterday :) Could you ask for more?? Maybe only for no hugs  ;)
                Saying goodbye is very hard, not knowing if you’ll see people again is even harder, but the hardest is the hugs that come from girls when you can’t hug back…. Let’s just be real! Haha I can say my conscience is clear and I’m glad I always keep the rules but it sure is awkward when you don’t hug back! I’d rather just avoid it :P haha What am I talking about!? Oh well its part of my weekend so I guess it has some relevance ;)
                Can’t wait to see what lies in store for me next week! I’ll make sure to give an update next week! Until then, Salani Kahle
Eldah Smeeeth

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"A Week in the Life of a SAJM Missionary! (It might get long but here we go!)"

"When you’re right, you’re seldom wrong.”
                And if you know that, you’ll get somewhere! Haha! More wisdom from Elder Scott.
                So I know that a while ago I sent a “day in the life of a SAJM missionary” but now I was thinking I want to attempt “a week in the life” post where each day’s activities I’ll write down. Haha! 
Disclaimer: this might get long but here we go!
                Ahh, P-day J I think it’s one of the funny ironies of mission that it’s a lot easier to wake up on p-day than on any other day. I mean we get up at the same time but the motivation must be different  :P I woke up at 6 and did my morning devotional and then took some time to fold and put away my clean laundry. We got ready for the day and from 8 till 10 we had our studies. At about 1030 we headed over to the Scotts for email; my favorite part of the day:) . We had lunch at the Swan’s place and me and my companion got haircuts from Sis. Scott and then the 4 of us elders took off for Sabie. We spent our afternoon going to 3 different waterfalls in Sabie. We went to Lonecreek which was my favorite one from our last trip (New Year’s Day) but then we went to another one that none of us had ever been. We went to Bridal Veil Falls. When we got there it was raining pretty hard and we contemplated just not walking up but decided that we were already here and that a little water wasn’t going to scare us. So we started making our way up the trail and the mountain, walking carefully to avoid the small river of water that flowed down the middle of the path. We got up there and looked and, at first we weren’t too impressed because there wasn’t a ton of water falling. But then we found a path that took us right up to the fall and even behind it! So we walked up behind  it when all of the sudden, Elder Willombe starts laughing as he walks up to the water and then he stands under the waterfall and raises his arms and gives a victory shout! Haha we all turned around and started laughing and then all followed suit. We each took turns standing under the waterfall and let me tell you, it was freezing!! But it was so cool because how many other people do you know that stand under waterfalls!? Haha not many! We were soaked and we dripped our way back to the car with our waterlogged socks/shoes, this time taking no thought as to the small river of water running down the path that we previously had avoided. We ended our adventure by going to Horseshoe Falls. When we got there it was past 5 so we got in free! One of the dogs that belonged to the caretaker followed us and even led us the whole way! Haha it was pretty cool to have a dog-guided tour of the falls! Still soaking, we hopped in the car and made the 45 minute drive back to Nelspruit. We got changed and went to dinner at Panarotti's at a district. After that, we started our exchange where Elder Pulley is now with me here in Nelspruit and Elder Kankkunen and Elder Willombe are in Kanyamazane. And here we are now! I’m excited to be with Elder Pulley because I’ve already learned some great teaching AND finding ideas! So we’re planning on doing those things tomorrow! But that was our Monday and now, as it is 1027, my purpose as a missionary is to sleep :)
A Trip to the Waterfalls in Sabie
                Wow, today I felt like I was being trained all over again! I had to adjust at the very start of the proselyting day but once I kind of humbled myself and embraced learning, I got so much out of today. I was on exchanges with Elder Pulley today and I’m sure glad I arranged to have him come with me here in Nelspruit because I needed him.  We had a good morning with a workout and study and all those things and we kicked off our day with a lesson with Ben and Thuli. We had a great lesson where we answered their questions using the Book of Mormon and then we introduced the Book more fully. Elder Pulley uses a whiteboard to teach (same as Elder Bizimana used) and now I know I REALLY need to get one! The visual aid that it gives with teaching and comprehension is perfect! From there, we tried a new method of finding that I’m going to call “smart and sneaky finding.” We went to I’Langa mall and started walking around and went into some shops where we were looking for people who were kinda bored at their job and would be willing to just have a simple conversation with us. From there we develop a relationship and introduce the gospel. This can happen over the course of one conversation or may need to happen after several visits to the store. It takes a bit more time and patience but it’s better to talk and really get to know someone so they can feel that what you have to share really applies to them! That was a great time and I’m thankful that I learned that from Elder Pulley.
                We picked up Elder Scott and drove to Barberton (40km) where we met a less-active sister named Carol Mashile and then after we went to her brother’s house who stays about 15km further in the Consort Mine. We had a great lesson there and they all want to figure out how they can get transport to church! When they do, that’ll be 7 people reactivated! The nice part is that we now have a repeating appointment with them every Wednesday at a time when everyone will be home. We raced the rain home but it caught up with us and it hasn’t stopped since! (I’m writing this Wednesday morning btw so yes it’s still raining)
                We had a great lesson with Bro Elvis, another less active member who is striving to come back. We told him not to stress about church right now but that he should put all his focus into reading the Book of Mormon daily! We gave him the story in Helaman 7-9 so we’re excited to see him read and start to build his faith again. After that lesson we rushed back to Nelspruit to meet a new lady that Elder Kankkunen and I tracted into. Her name is Nombuso and it’s actually a miracle how we found her! We had been tracting a street that had already been tracted but this time getting all the houses that weren’t home. We had no success up to that point. Then we saw a house and I said “nah we already went there and nothing.” Immediately after I said that I thought that we had better go try again. My companion must have thought the same thing cause that’s exactly what he said. When we were knocking on this gate, a voice behind us asked: “Can I help you??” we turned around to see a lady and her daughter who actually lived in the house. We made a return appointment and knew that it was supposed to be that we met her. So back to Elder Pulley and I, we did a “how to begin teaching” lesson and it turns out that she is a doctor and works at the same hospital as Sis. Majate (fellowship) and is a single mom who knows the blessings of religion but might be looking for something more! She invited us to come back so we’re excited to continue that!
                We ended our day there and had an end of exchange inventory where we talked about some things and strengths mostly and how to be better missionaries all around. It was a great exchange and I’m thankful that it happened because I was able to get to know Elder Pulley a lot better and, as I said before, I learned a ton! We went and swapped back companions that night and came home, did some quick planning and went to bed! Tuesday is finished!
                Well Wednesday worked out to be a correlation/service day! After our usual morning studies, we went over to the Scott’s flat to talk about the week ahead and discuss how we would best work together to make things happen. I a very much grateful for this meeting because we get to enlist the help of the Scotts in accomplishing everything that we have to do and all the things that we have to teach. From there, we dressed down into grubby clothes and went up to Pres. Manjate’s house and helped him with his garden and yard work. After that we had to leave for a teaching appointment that ended up ditching us -____- haha so we went back to Pres. Manjate’s house and started our correlation meeting with him! We’re pretty excited tho because he told us that this Sunday we would be getting a branch mission leader! From there, Elder Kankkunen and I spent some time doing a bit of finding and following/checking up on our investigators until our scripture study class began at 7. We drove Elder Scott to go get the pizza for the class and when we returned, we were blown away by the attendance! Ben came, 3 other investigators came! We had 2 recent converts and a less active show up as well! Haha not to say we weren’t hopeful but we were not anticipating that many people! That was a very fun thing to have happen and to see the success of our innovative missionary work. To end the night tho, our car broke…again. On our way home from dropping our ward missionary off, the engine started to fail, oil lamp came on and the temperature was beyond HOT! Luckily, thanks to angels pushing us I’m sure, we were able to get home and park our car. Now we just hope that it won’t be out of commission for too long.
                Well, talk about a good day where nothing goes as you plan yet it all seems to turn out. I had to go to the dentist this morning and get a cavity filled. That was more fun than p-day….. Yeah not really. As much fun as it is to have the dentist and assistant speak Afrikaans the whole time when you don’t understand, it isn’t haha. He drilled and put some medicine in the cavity so it wouldn’t turn into a root canal (if it does... smh) and gave me a filling! My mouth was numb for about 3 hours and that was super distracting but funny because Elder Kankkunen slapped me in the face and I couldn’t feel the sting haha.
                So after withdrawing an arm and leg from the ATM to pay for it (it was double what he estimated...  we’ll have to work on his quoting skills) we returned home to start our studies and weekly planning. My mouth stopped being numb by the end of personal studies so I began to talk again and it was very nice to be able to feel my face! But right as we got started into making our phone calls in weekly planning, we got a call from a member who was looking for our flat. We guided him to it and he took a look at our car (I guess the Scotts told him what happened). We found out earlier that morning that our oil was good but the coolant was DRY as a bone! So we filled it up, let the engine idle it thru and topped it off again. We then drove it to the dealership.
                Now we’ve become so famous at Westvaal Chevy that we didn’t even have to go inside but the shop director came out and greeted us in the parking lot asking, “What’s the matter with your car now?” we told him and he was confused because he said he watched them fill it up with coolant. Idk what could have happened but anyways they took the car in and the Scotts were kind enough to shuttle us back to our flat to resume our planning. We finally finished in time to go teach a very good appointment to a family where the daughters are investigating the church. It was a great lesson and the light of understanding went off in their heads as we taught about how to really pray and understand the doctrine of the Godhead in application. Haha they were kind enough to feed us muffins and juice but we were kind of scared because that night was the district throw-down challenge at Spur! We were kind tho and ate their very good treats, praying that we would have room still for dinner.
                That night, we headed to Spur for the first (And last) annual Nelspruit district pig-out haha. Thursdays at Spur is all-you-can-eat ribs and wings and we had a contest between Nelspruit and Kanyamazane elders who would win. So we arrived and the waiter had already prepared a table for us and sat us down and we started eating. The first plate was finished quickly followed by the second plate. Kanyamazane’s strategy was to alternate who ate all the wings and who ate all the ribs but our strategy was just this: eat! Haha we got to our third plate when the restaurant started looking at us, the manager came by and said, “I’ve never seen this before!” and we requested our 4th plate. Now keep in mind, these are full stacks of ribs and like 8 wings per plate!
                We all started slowing down and the thought of a 5th plate just about made us lose it haha. Because of time, Elder Kankkunen couldn’t order a 5th plate (Even tho he wanted to, which we should consider a win) and Elder Pulley and I decided to settle the contest with an uphill sprint. We went outside and ran a 50yd sprint uphill and we were neck and neck the whole time. At the end he pulled ahead just barely and beat me by half a stride. Shame! haha but it’s all in good fun and we all had fun! We also all never want to see another rib or chicken wing again haha
                Today we had the privilege of having our zone leaders up for zone meeting and exchanges! Zone meeting was sweet and we got to learn about how to have more success in getting people to listen to us. We also talked about the teaching skill of listening! I’m glad that I had a trainer who emphasized that for me because it’s been a part of my mission from the beginning. I probably can’t teach the greatest but I know that if we all listen with love, we won’t need to worry about our teaching level because the spirit will attend us and they will know that we truly love and care enough about them to listen.
                We took off afterwards with Elder Thompson (Vernal, UT) and headed on our way to Lydenburg to see Calisto! We had a great meeting with him where we discussed obedience and following the living prophet! I was so thankful for Elder Nelson’s talk from general conference because it was able to bring that “home-run” witness to the end of our powerful lesson! We also got to see a member family whose son just turned 8 and we get to help him prepare for baptism! We had a fun lesson about the gift of the Holy Ghost and at the end we blindfolded him and told him to listen to his mom’s voice to direct him to our scriptures while we did our best to be loud and confuse him. The whole day turned out well. Elder Thompson is kind of a serious guy so we didn’t have too many laughs but it was a good time regardless.
                This morning we ended our exchange and went and taught a freaking sweet lesson with an investigator named Pharaoh! Elder Ah Wong and I tracted him in our complex and he was kind of on and off but we got to see him after a while and we just had a fantastic lesson with him! He wanted to know how to follow God the correct way, how to build his faith and how much faith he had. We were able to use the book of Mormon in Alma 32 to help guide our discussion but by the end he said: “I think I need to be baptized!” haha we said yes! And then explained how it would be his decision and that we would be there to help him make it so that he can be sure he is doing what Heavenly Father wants him to do.
                Our branch had a combined youth activity and since our branch doesn’t do a lot of those, we decided we needed to be there to support, give extra attendance and then help clean up. It was a fun time and we got to build our relationship with the members. From there, we went and saw Ben and Thuli. It was a great lesson and they had stellar questions which they felt were answered by the Book of Mormon but we left feeling... unsure. The ball had to drop sometime with the whole “if our church is true, you need to dump your pastor no matter how nice he is” and today is when it dropped. We left them with a bold commitment that if they prayed sincerely that God would help them find the TRUE way, they would receive their answer. Now, it’s up to their agency and the spirit but we sure hope it turns out well. I think one of the more difficult things is KNOWING God’s will will be done but wanting it to be your will as well.
                We got to go up to our branch president’s house and give him a priesthood blessing of comfort as his son had another seizure (2nd within 8-9 weeks) and they just got out of the hospital. Boy, I can’t imagine how scary it is to be the parent in a time like that. I know what it’s like to be a brother whose sister had them, but seeing as I don’t have kids, I can only imagine from what I’ve seen here. We were just glad we could help minister in such a small way.
                From there we went to our last lesson of the evening with the Nkosi family where we talked about prophets and the priesthood. It was a wonderful lesson and they understood even to the point of expressing their desire to be baptized by the priesthood! Now we just have to work on helping them establish the connection to the message of the restoration and coming to our church vs. their church…. Do you notice a pattern? Hahaha all in all Saturday was great! And President Dunn called and expressed his love for us and his desire to have all the districts and district leaders on board for February, the month of miracles! Haha he’s got no worries up here! We’re all stoked.
                I always love Sunday, that never changes! Plus I’d have to say that it only gets better on fast Sunday with testimony meeting! I think universally missionaries worry about inviting investigators to church for testimony meeting but not here in Nelspruit! It’s always powerful! We had Portia attend and she said that she loved it and loved Sunday school as well! Our new branch mission leader is Bro. Sigauke and he is fired up! His first day and already he has the whole priesthood committed to talk to a friend and give us their details! Haha MONEY!!! Couldn’t ask for a better blessing!
                After church we took a chance to study and then prepared for our lesson with Debbie. We’re helping Debbie see the difference between the doctrine of Christ which we teach and the doctrines that all the other churches teach. The cool thing here is that she notices and loves how “right” it feels! So our lesson today was helping her to see how she can know all those things for herself (plan of salvation, atonement, etc.) if she learns about the restoration. Great lesson!
                We were kindly invited over to Sis. Purine’s house for dinner and we had a great chicken and rice dinner with a lesson on service afterwards. Isn’t it amazing how selfless we can become when we serve? I think that’s my favorite part!
                We then ended our day with an official lesson with Portia. We followed up with church and then the question was asked: “what do you think sets our church apart from the church across the street or all the other churches?” and she replied, “I think it’s that you guys are teaching the truth.” Wow, wouldn’t ask for anything better! So we had a great lesson in helping her to recommit to living the standards of the gospel and keeping commitments :) hopefully she’ll be baptized in March!
                Wow, a lot happens in a week! Haha like I think I’m done typing for now or else my fingers will fall off :P
                I love this work! It’s hard sometimes but the miracles make it worth it! It’s like the shot in golf that keeps you coming back! Or the save in a lacrosse game that gets everyone fired up! I love it! And I love you guys! Have a great week!
-Elder David Spencer “Tony” Smith, GOALie

Saturday, January 31, 2015

This is the first time on my mission where a whole family is investigating together!

January 26, 2015
The parable of the Fruit Tree: the fruit you bear is the fruit you carry.
The parable of Fire: where there is smoke, there is fire.
The parable of Who,  Me? Once, as a young police officer in the city of Los Angeles in the infamous sections of Watts, Elder Scott was patrolling the streets when he saw a hoodlum wandering around. Now, this guy was the only one on the street and even the block but when Elder Scott said: “Hey you, come here.” He replied, “who, me!?” “No, not you, that buffalo!”  haha so always remember, “Who, me?”
I hope that we can all learn the intended lessons from these deep parables. There is infinite wisdom in the School of Scott and we would all do well to ponder these teachings in our hearts.   Hahaha if you’re confused, it’s probably one of those “you have to be here” moments but I needed to share! I mean, how can I be selfish and keep all this wisdom that I’m learning to myself.
                To be honest, I think the depth of the things I’m learning go a bit beyond the parables of Elder Scott. This week has been a very wonderful blessing! We have had the chance to do a lot of traveling! We went to Sabie, Barberton, and Lydenburg. We traveled about 350Km, taught some amazing people and just flat out enjoyed our week!
                We have been teaching a family that we found on exchanges last year and they have been progressing like crazy! Ben Mahlangu is the father and Thuli is his wife. They have 3 young kids: Nondumiso (14), Siyabonga (11), and Sinathemba (9mo) and they are just a great family! Well the parents came to our scripture study class on Wednesday night and then the whole family showed up to church yesterday!!! This is the first time on my mission where 1- a whole family is investigating together and 2- the whole family came to church when we invited them! The best part is that they all enjoyed it and said they felt very welcome.
                During our Lydenburg trip we got to see our favorite man Calisto (well the Scotts got to see and teach him) and Elder Kankkunen and I were meeting with the Sigauke family. The Sigaukes lived in the branch for a long time while he was the branch president but then they moved down to Benoni and attended the Rynfield ward. Then, they felt they needed to move back and already, in 2 weeks, they have livened up our branch :) they are really great people! What’s cool is that Bro. Sigauke joined the church in Daveyton when the Daveyton branch first got started in the 90s! So that’s cool talking with him about my former area!
                All in all it’s been a wonderful week and I’m loving being with Elder Kankkunen! He is an amazing teacher and a great missionary! I’m definitely learning a lot from him!
                Eish I’m out of time! haha I hope you all have an equally as great week!!!
Elder Spencer “Tony” Smith, GOALie!

P.S.  Here’s a picture tour of our flat! Bathrooms included cause I know you wanted to see them ;)  

Holidays, Transfers and Work, Work, WORK!

January 12, 2015

I know, I know, even missionaries stay busy during the holidays! No rest for the wicked OR the righteous if you want to put it that way. But I finally made some time to relate the news of the holidays, transfers, and the missionary work.
Boy I don’t know if you could receive a better holiday on mission than what we experienced! I think I made a voice recording of our Christmas experience with the breakfast, Meet the Mormons, and sports but if I can throw in my feelings about it. It. Was. GREAT!!!! Haha we had a great new years as well! It was testimony building as well as fun! We had worked very hard on the 31st and were looking forward to being able to go to the Maleka’s house for a dinner and to see Brother Morgan Flynn (previously known as Elder Flynn who served here a year ago but with whom I got to serve around in Benoni)!! He came back and was touring his mission and SA with his mom, brother and sister and their spouses. It was a lot of fun, we got some awesome braiied meat, and we were able to keep the rules! It was very tempting to just leave at the end of our 80 min. by saying “oops we’re out of time to share a message” but we shared a message. It would have been easy to justify staying longer than 80 min for any number of reasons! But we left after our time was up J it was these decisions that made later decisions easier. When we returned, we were planning on having the Kanyamazane elders over to celebrate New Year’s similar to the way we had done it when I was a new missionary; playing board games in the flat until 12:00. But something told me it wasn’t right. I had been justifying it for like a week though until finally, after dropping the car off at the Scotts and hearing elder Scott say “enjoy it with your eyes closed” I just thought in my head “eish you’re right, I know what I need to do.” That was even further confirmed when I called Elder Allen to see what his district was doing. So I told Elder Ah Wong and at first he was kinda like “really Elder Smith!?” but being the loving guy he is, he agreed to support me. I cancelled the other guys coming and I got crap from them but we were able to go to bed at 1030 that night and feel good that we had lived the higher law and knew that it’s still okay! We can survive even if we don’t celebrate the New Year right at midnight haha. ß-- Huge testimony builder for me! We got a “day-off” from President Dunn for our New Year’s Day in which we went with the Scotts and saw the waterfalls in Sabie, Pilgrims rest right near Graskop, and the 3 Rondewaals again! Ey it was too nice to be able to just rest in the car :) I got to nap! Haha I figure your mission president is only going to give you one day off so you might as well live it up! **hey dad I think I have some small semblance of how you feel when you get to take a nap now ;) haha All in all, the holidays were great and the missionary work was great during the holidays!
Sadly, it came time for Elder Ah Wong to leave me in Nelspruit. We had been companions for 2 transfers but eish it felt like a couple weeks. It went by too quickly! I truly love that guy as my brother! I can confidently say I have loved each of my companions but elder Ah Wong was REALLY easy to love and he helped me a ton as I was a new leader. I’ll miss him for sure! He got called to white-wash Orangefarm with Elder Van Heerden and he says it’s hard but has the right man for the job. My new companion is……Drumroll…… Elder Kankkunen from Finland!! Haha I just keep chalkin’ up the international guys! Hey keep em coming cause I’ll have to spend the rest of my life with Americans hahaha. The really cool thing that Elder Kankkunen and I have in common is that we both were companions with Elder Raymond and we both have served in Johannesburg city! Haha when I left Raymond there in Jozi, he trained Elder Kankkunen! So when our pictures showed up on the slideshow, we both got excited because we kind of knew each other! So far we’ve had a lot of fun together and he is a wonderful guy and an amazing teacher!! I’m blown away when I teach with him! Haha it’s funny to see people’s reactions when they see his name tag because there is something about just looking at it (idk maybe it’s the double “k”) that makes people go “hawu!” haha but it’s awesome. He, just like me, is carrying his camera around everywhere now that he’s new in Nelspruit so that he can get all the pictures he needs to show his family how beautiful it is here! I’m looking forward to our time as companions!
New companion, new sport
Work, Work, Work: 
As far as work goes, it’s still going strong! We’ve taught 15 quality lessons this week and we even had 2 days out of commission because of transfers! And the people we are teaching are golden! Ben Mahlangu, the great guy we met with Elder Neuenschwander is now progressing with his wife joining the lessons! They like the message of Joseph Smith and they are praying to know if it’s true! We put one of our investigators, Portia, on date for the 22nd of Feb.! We’ve dropped several jokers so that we can spend our time doing valuable things and helping those that are prepared. I’ve learned a lot of lessons, especially with a sister who shall remain nameless. Eish this situation is very much less than ideal but it’s something that we deal with. In fact, to be kind to all people involved I’ll just leave it at that. But the lesson I am learning is how wonderful it is when someone decides they want the gospel and all you have to look at is their commitment and their qualifications as found in D&C 20:37. It’s not up to us to solve other problems but to focus on helping God’s children back into His fold in ways other than financial help. It’s a great lesson that’s been hard to learn but I just hope I’ve learned it haha.
                Wow, a lot has happened! And it’s gonna keep on happening cause that’s how life is. I enjoy mission life though it kinda scares me to think that one day I’ll have to say goodbye to SA but for now, I’m here :) and I’m loving it! I love you all! Sala kahle :)
Love, Elder David Spencer Tony Smith

New Year's Epistle: "Making Goals Our Goal"

January 1, 2015

Dear Friends and Family,
                 You know how I know I’m changing? There are many ways but let me share a couple stories that have a lot to do with the goal-setting atmosphere of the New Year.
                This Friday in district meeting, the topic in which I was to prepare the lesson was “Making Goals Our Goal- how to set realistic and realizable goals.” (Now I know “realizable” isn’t a word so I just substituted attainable.) So this made me excited to teach because I have a lot of personal experiences with goals! Not in a boasting or prideful way, I have strived from the beginning of my mission to always have some sort of goal that I can work on. I looked through all of my planners thus far and each week there are personal and companionship goals. Some of them are fun and goofy like “destroy Elder Perez in Magic on p-day” or “give weird compliments to ward missionaries” but they were always coupled with a serious, growth oriented goal. Every week or period of several weeks/months I’ve been able to work on something to improve on as a person, as a missionary, as both! And that has been from week 1 till year 1 and its still continuing.
                Needless to say I was really excited to see how I could put something together to help us make goals our goal! So to kick it off, I thought of something Elder Kankkunen said the first day of our companionship concerning goals and desires. It might have been a somewhat insignificant sentence but the fact that he used goals and desires as two separate things really stuck out to me! So I decided to use that to open my lesson. We talked about desires being things that we want and things that drive us and goals being the things that get us to, or help us achieve our desires. Thanks to inspired comments from Elder Swan and Sister Scott, we learned about making sure our goals are within our sphere of influence so they aren’t futile. This allowed for us to discuss the SMART method of goal setting.  SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time) goals were something I remember learning in my sports med class from Coach J. they apply in sports, life, and the gospel! If we set goals that are SMART and we write them down, then we will achieve them!
                So we look at what goals are, what kinds, and how we should set them but what about the kinds of goals we’re making as missionaries? We set personal development goals (the ones I work on most often) like Christlike attributes and physical things but we also set key indicators every night and even weekly! These are the ones that allow us to fulfill and magnify our missionary purpose. As I was going thru this train of thought, I received an inspiration that key indicators are the goals that are directly related with the Doctrine of Christ. Key indicators allow ourselves and those we come in contact with to experience all the blessings of the fullness of the gospel which is now on the earth. Key indicators indicate what people should be doing as a result of being taught; ultimately exercising faith and repenting unto baptism.
                “I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn to master the techniques living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small portion of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life.” Elder M. Russell Ballard
                Like I said at the beginning, being able to put this lesson together was exciting for me. Being able to say that I am a goalie as well as a GOALie is something that I take confidence in! I have been looking back in my journals from a year ago and it’s amazing 1) to hear how I’ve changed and 2) to see how simple it was then and now to just set a goal, work for it and know that if you keep working and if it’s righteous, the Lord will help you change. That is the Life of a GOALie.
                So what are my goals for this New Year? One is a continuation of a lifelong goal to be more obedient and to be Joyfully Obedient! The other is to draw nearer to the Savior by counseling with Him daily.
                In my effort to be more obedient, I was looking through our new mission policy manual. I came across the mission’s policy for music and found that a bit of my stuff was inconsistent and that a lot of it was music that I had gotten from other elders. Until that point I hadn’t really thought that it was pirated music but I realized that I needed to do something about it! So I invited each member of our district to bring their memory storage devices and I set aside some time after district meeting in which we could take care of all those things. Haha I was very careful not to try and force but I knew that I would be the only one who would do it. But after a while, Elder Kankkunen even hooked up his hard drive and so now the Nelspruit Elders have legally obtained music that is consistent with what our mission president wants and it feels good to be able to be more obedient!
                In my effort to draw nearer to the Savior, I received inspiration in December of a way that I could accomplish just that. I decided to start another journal. In this journal I can take the time to counsel with the savior by speaking to Him reverently but as I would speak with a friend. In order to be able to do this, I have to wake up a bit earlier but the sacrifice of a little sleep is well worth the reward that I get from doing my whole morning devotional. From 6 to 6:30 I kneel and pray, read the Book of Mormon, counsel with the Savior thru journaling and pray to keep the spirit with me throughout the rest of my day. J its one resolution that is really helping me to be able to come closer to Jesus Christ!
                When it all comes down to it, goals are about improving ourselves and being more efficient with our time here on the earth. “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God..” and we are able to do that if we have a desire to be clean before God and we work towards our goals that will help us get there.
                Friends, I am really thankful for the things that I have learned so far on my mission. I am thankful for the changes that have occurred within me as I’ve been trying to do my best. And I know that that isn’t just the case for me but for each one of us! My challenge is for us to set a goal if we haven’t already done so. If we have, let’s not make it as trivial as “destroy Elder Perez in Magic” but rather let’s work at something that will bring us closer to God. He’ll help us get there :) I testify of that in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"It's hard sending off a great companion like Elder Ah Wong."

Elder Smith was very preoccupied and busy on P-Day and didn't have much time for emailing as he was getting ready for transfers. (He's promised us a great blog post next week!)  In his own words:
"Mom, it's hard sending a great companion off like Elder Ah Wong. In fact you could probably get me to tear up easily as I think about what a blessing he was to me and my life! What occupies most of my mind-capacity right now is all the crazy stuff we have to accomplish before transfers. Imagine how it is right before the family leaves to Hebgen and you have a billion things on your mind and that's how I feel!"
The Nelspruit group- Elder & Sister Scott, Elder Ah Wong & Elder Smith
Their little group took one last jaunt to the edge of their district (near Mozambique) together last week. 

Ah Wong & Smith!

I don't know where they were specifically, but it's incredible!

Apparently the other elders reassembled their beds for them when they weren't home.
The Fort!

The essentials?

A great place to have planning meeting.
Cool bookends to match his Rhino-hide scriptures.