Guest Testimonies

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.