Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Men (and Woman) Who Brought Me to the Place I Am Today

As I sit here thinking, looking forward to my mission, I can’t help but remember the persons responsible for bringing me here. I know that if it weren’t for the faithfulness and diligence of Heavenly Father’s faithful servants, I wouldn’t have come to accept the Gospel or find the testimony I have through the gift and power of the Holy Ghost.

It is for that reason I have chosen to dedicate this post to all those who have aided in the strengthening of my testimony and who have been with me every step of the way. I am truly blessed and grateful for all that I have and all that I have experienced.

I believe the first time I ever encountered anything remotely Mormon was early 2007; whereas the first time I became aware of anything Mormon was early 2013. Both times because of a young man named Dylan Farquharson. If it weren’t for him, my journey would never have begun. He may not be planning on serving a mission, but he is a missionary.

Let me explain. In 2007, I moved to Roodepoort, where I began schooling at Constantia Kloof Primary School. The teacher placed me next to a kid who immediately began befriending me, and showed me a picture of Moroni burying the Nephite record. Unfortunately, his presentation thereof involved the explanation of the lost books of the Bible, which led me to retaliate with what I knew regarding such. Somehow, the understanding of what the image was and the existence of the Book of Mormon completely eluded me.

It wasn’t until approximately five years later when he, Dylan Farquharson, became brave enough to trick me into coming to a dinner at his house – a dinner which just so happened to be a DA with the missionaries at his house.

Now I’ve told this story before in My Decision to Join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My point, however, is that this entire journey began because of one such Dylan Farquharson.

That was when I met the Elders. Daniel Beenfield, specifically, was the one who gave me my first copy of the Book of Mormon. One of the first to teach me of the restored gospel, and even though I contended much, I heard his voice echo truths. He was sincere and I believed he believed what he was saying with all his heart, might, and strength. And I thank him for braving those steps and not giving up on me. Oh, and I can’t forget the time he let me score a try in a game of touch rugby. Patronising, right? It’s fine; anyone who knows me knows I’d never have scored any other way.

Serving with him was Jordan Black; whom I converse with often. I was able to share things with him and his companion, and they listened. And, even though we only began learning more about one another after the completion of his mission, he has contributed much to my understanding that Latter-day Saints are not brainwashed morons. His willingness to serve, inspiringly archaic terminology, and moving intellect have led me to understand Heavenly Father’s desire for us to learn. He’s also a poet and artist of note.

After some time, I returned to find another companionship in their stead. Dakota Dalton, who I didn’t speak to much until after he’d gone home. His was the period where I actually hated the missionaries. Strong emotion, I know; but I’d shared very personal experiences with the previous missionaries, and suddenly I had two completely new people I was expected to talk to. He stuck by, though, which I’m grateful for. And he even made a crack at our last night together. Somehow, he made it possible for me to push forward.

Alex Baker followed with the look of sport written all over him… He was actually the first to give me the Centurion missionary phone number (which I saved as Elder Baker until the day of my baptism), and to take mine. He sent me verses to help ease my concerns regarding Moroni being an angel of the devil. I even taught him of John’s tarrying. I remember, once, he told me that he was giving drugs to children.

Until then, I only had Utahans teach me. Siyabonga Armstrong Zulu, a South African, came through and took Dakota Dalton’s place. He paid attention to my concerns and even remembered them in subsequent meetings. Even today, he continues to act as an inspiration to continue forward. Also, he predicted my service in the Durban South Africa mission field. I can’t wait to see him again! Man! More specifically, man of God!

I didn’t realise, until after, that I’d been waiting for one such David Tew; the one and only. Upon meeting him, my attitude concerning the gospel changed completely. I still contended, but the desire to accept flinted. The Spirit whispered, and I knew he’d be the one to baptise me, even before I came to accept the Gospel. He introduced me to a few Mumford and Sons songs and I shared with him much that I hadn’t opened up about. In the end, he was the one to baptise, confirm, and ordain me. And he only left after giving me a blessing. The timing was perfect. Oh, and he was the first to take me teaching. He’ll always be my Aniki (too complicated to explain) and greatest motivator regarding mission. Spiritual grandbabies coming your way!

President Omer, whose first name I do not know. Meeting him made me aware of my worthiness before the Lord, and opened me up to that fact that Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, do in fact love me. Unfortunately, we didn’t stay in touch, but I’ll never forget him, and the influence he had in my life and decision to move forward with baptism.

Brandon Day came after and taught me about the sacrament more fully; yea, after my baptism. He continued to take me teaching and helped me understand the gospel more fully. I even remember telling him I’d be going to Alberton and that I’d become apostate. “Your testimony is too strong for that,” he said. That man, I’ll see him again at Tribulation.

In Alberton, I befriended Elder McAllister, who took me teaching many places. I learnt from him and observed his skills, especially in preparing Hermana Malabi for mission. Once, we even went out to eat a Jawbreaker; a large hamburger that he came closest to finishing. Even today (13/02/2014), six days before my mission, I hope to see him again before leaving.

Following McAllister was Kevin Martin. He included me in discussions both secular and gospel, practically shared a birthday with me, and fell in love with my Diablo III.

His companion, after Alberton had been whitewashed, was Elder Broadhead. Man, I love that guy. I’ve learnt a lot with him and I’m especially grateful for all that he has done. But, boy, he frustrates me. I’ve never been as angry with anyone as I have with him, yet somehow I keep forgiving him. He joined in my ordination as Elder and escorted me to the temple. In my sister’s words, I have expectations of him, and he rarely lives up to them. Why? I ask. Then it occurs to me, the only other person I feel this way about is my sister. He hugs me without my permission, and I let him.

Currently serving with him is Elder Wegrowski. Today I learnt more about him than ever before. He is willing, caring, and filled with an interesting sense of humour. His spirit is great, but I continuously point out my doubts in the legality of his driving, even though he’s certain to the contrary. I’m gonna miss him.

Kevin Farquharson. We’ve spoken much, and he knows what I have to say about him. I’m eternally grateful for his love and support. We truly did meet in the premortal life. This I know.

Shan Farquharson. She sussed me out from day one. She knew my innermost feelings and pointed out that I didn’t believe that God loved me. She put her foot down and made certain that my only source of study was the scriptures, specifically the Book of Mormon. The next day I decided to get baptised. I’m grateful for her support, hospitality and influence in my acceptance of the gospel. She is my mother in the Gospel.

Elder Wood, who was the first missionary I met in the MTC. I saw him just before getting baptised and now, again, just before leaving for mission. It’s great to know another scriptorian, another gospel enthusiast, and another zealous missionary.

Oh, and I cannot forget Elder Deichman, my first ever official/unofficial companion. Spending the day with him taught me much, especially regarding dogs and bags, coke and drunken people. I also learnt that my companion will probably lose me a couple of times; and him calling “Jono?!” with me right behind him.

These are the Mormons, to date, that have made a profound impact on my life. I will never forget them. I do, however, admit that many others have played a role in bringing me where I am today. First of such is my mother, Jolene Matthysen. Others include Elder Melese, Elder Mead, Ezra McNeish, Alpha Alphanum Mukurati, my sister, Alison Nikita Smith, and many others.

I am grateful for these people in my life and pray always for their guidance, protection, and prosperity. These people are a few of the reasons I desire to serve a mission – over and above my desire to share the gospel which has impacted my life so greatly. May the Lord bless them and continue to use them in the lives of others.

This is truly the Lord’s work. He loves us and cares for us. He blesses us in unimaginable ways, and missionary work is something we’ve all been called to do; whether full-time, part-time, online, big, or small – there’s always something for each of us to do. And I thank Heavenly Father each day for all of it.

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