Monday, 8 February 2016

I'm not lying

"No you're not," he said. "You're lying."

"I'm serious, I'm not lying."

"Then prove it."

"Wat wil jy he ek moet doen? Afrikaans praat?"

"Okay, fine. You're not from Utah then. You're Australian - I know people from Australia that can speak Afrikaans."

"Would you like to see my green South African identity document?"

"Still doesn't convince me. Next time you come I'll ask you a question only a South African would know, then we'll see."

This was my introduction to Bethlehem, an introductory conversation with a new member no longer coming to Church. To say the least, it was interesting.

From the moment I drove up, I could feel the difference. The air was thinner, my eyes were itchy, and my nose was dry. There wasn't an Indian to be seen, and every English word spoken was drenched with the accent of another tongue (mainly Afrikaans). Oh, and Sotho. That means no more Baba, Ma, Auntie or Uncle, only Ntate, Mme, Tannie and Oom.

In the words of my companion, Elder Ncube, we needed to hit the floor running. We headed out and tracted the town and township streets, using our multilingual skills to our advantage - he tackled the Sotho and I tackled the Afrikaans, each stepping in to contribute where we could. My theory held true - new area, new rejections.

In Chatsworth, I'd perfected the approach of having people at least accept some material they could read, with a number they could contact should they become interested. The locals of Bethlehem won't even have that. Large houses, big gates, and families that believe they have everything they need.

What could we offer? At least in the township, people are willing to entertain us enough to speak about the gospel, families, and what we do as missionaries. The family, gospel, missionary, or religion approach was not working. Time to pull out the big guns: "Have you ever seen or heard of the Book of Mormon?"

It was the only way anyone would entertain us for longer than a second - regardless of the language we used.

As the week has passed with many appointments made, new people to meet (thirty five to be exact), and families to teach, I look forward to seeing their lives change with what the gospel has to offer. That is, if they're willing to let it.

Take one matric student for example. We visited with him and his older sister. When we returned to follow up, he actually read the pamphlet we left him. And just to make sure, we asked, "What did you learn?"

"Many things," he said. Which is exactly what everyone says so they don't have to say anything in particular. Yeah, he didn't read, I thought.

"The part that grabbed my attention the most though was this book, the Book of Mormon. I want that book. I've been waiting all night and all day just so I could ask you where I could get that book!"

He went on talking about the priesthood and revelation, and his thoughts as he read about the apostasy, curious about Joseph Smith. But most of all, he wanted the Book of Mormon.

Elder Ncube and I were both speechless.

The Lord has His plans. He has His people. And the answers are waiting. We just need to go out and get it - taking every opportunity that comes our way.

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