Guest Testimonies

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