Sanibonani, and top of the morning!
For all of you Americans, I must confess: american football needs to rethink its life and join the rugby club. Like wow! Rugby is such a fun sport to play and to watch, especially when your companion is a boss at the game. We played an epic game of rugby this morning, and beloved companion Elder Zitumane was the match MVP [fist bump]. Elder Z is an awesome guy.
Speaking of rugby, we were given a special assignment by President Leavitt. A pair of elders were entering into a foreign environment to do some proselyting, which had the possibility of yielding much fruit. The four of us gathered together a few hours before we commenced our labors and held a devotional, sharing scriptures and and experiences to define and refine our approach towards the challenging environment in which we would be entering. We eventually arrived at the location where we would, as fishers of men, 'dip our rods in the water'. Instead of attempting to describe the experience from that point, I'll just tell it in pictures:
The method in which the elders acquired the tickets was quite honorable, believe it or not! A few weeks ago, their car was in need of servicing. They took their car to the car dealership to service their vehicle. As they waited, they felt that they needed to speak to the owner of the dealership. They asked if they could see him, and as they were lead to the owner's office, they described that they felt like Nephi, "not knowing beforehand the things that [he should do]." Upon meeting him, they began to share the message of the restored gospel with him. At the end of the conversation, the owner expressed that he had no interest in learning more, but was truly impressed with them in entering into the service of Christ at such a young age. He mentioned that he sponsored the Johannesburg Lions (one of the best professional ruby teams in Africa), and asked if they and their 'higher elders' would join him at the next match, thus securing the four of us tickets to the game with VIP Access. I should include that the game was much enjoyed, but the highlight of the night was in contacting another professional coach and making an appointment to teach his entire team. You never know where and hows you may find such awesome opportunities to share the light of the gospel.
The entire experience was an interesting and very unorthodox testimony-builder in trusting the Spirit's guidance. I'm also grateful for the Lord allowing me the experience whilst in His service, because it gave me a new perspective on the word 'joy'. In the stands sat thousands of spectators, many of whom were consuming alcoholic drinks (adding a wide variety of comedy to the match), who were cheering on their countrymen to victory. I took moments throughout the game to pause and survey the scene. In these moments, it hit me that the happiness of these devout supporters was in the success of their team and in the thrill of the game. Although I shared the desire for the success of our Lions, a feeling of emptiness prevailed in the electrifying atmosphere.
For many people, money and the praise of the world are the most sought after achievements to be attained. The quest for fame and success has a numbing effect on the soul to the things of God, dragging many to a friendless and miserable fate. There's truly no security in material wealth. Exhibit A: in the past week, my allotment card has been identified with many fraudulent transactions, ultimately leading to the termination of my card (meaning someone hacked my card and stole money, so the company closed my card to protect the remaining money). It's an unfortunate circumstance that occurs much too often in this country. Food has since become scarce in that regard. Although my new card won't arrive in a while, I'm not so worried. I'll share the reason for being so towards the end of this letter.
Amidst the search for security and happiness, many will spend good dollar to find the key to joy and peace. A less-active member of the church did so in purchasing many tickets to hear experienced motivational speakers. As he attended each of their conferences and lectures, he came to realize that all of the sermons and speeches were encompassed by the principles of the restored gospel. He said, "I was basically paying people to teach me the gospel."
The restored gospel truly does encompass all truth and joy that many are searching for, a fact that leaves me so humbled and honored to share with these searching souls the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that in this Church, all goodness and truth that God has revealed to man since the beginning of mankind itself is found. I was instructed beautifully pertaining to this topic by the Spirit through Elder Ronald A. Rasband as he visited our mission yesterday. In this missionary devotional presided over by Elder Rasband, he spoke with power and with the Spirit. I forgot my study journal at the office, so I can't share what was taught. There's one quote that touched me profoundly enough for me to remember, which I'll share now: "Our church can't reserve the word 'goodness'. All churches have truth and goodness within. But we invite them to bring all the goodness they have, and to let us add to it."
I've met many good, saintly people here in South Africa. In our interactions, many express gratitude to the churches they have been reared in because it has lead them to revere God and to live good, honorable lives. Yet in those people who accept the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, a light enters into their lives that leaves them speechless, unable to express the all-encompassing joy found only in the illuminating gospel.
A saintly woman who I call 'Mother' has helped me see this in a new light. She lives in a distant land called the USA, leaving her disabled in sending me packages. Yet her desire to express love to her son knows no bounds. She has since developed a lovely system in which she orders food from a local grocery store and has them deliver it to my door.
Like a son who has lost the ability to buy food, leaving his cupboards empty, God blesses us with the restored gospel to fill our souls with nourishment for the soul. He fills our spirit's cupboards with the light of His Son Jesus Christ. I graciously thank my mother for her gift from afar, and my Heavenly Father for His gifts from on high: His Son Jesus Christ and the goodness of the gospel.