Quote of the night last night from Elder Nthengu... Ah man. Being with him, Elder Sarai, and Elder Haas these last couple weeks has been a blast. We started together (except for Elder Haas, who started his mission in Liberia but was booted so he didn't get ebola and die and stuff), and we're ending together. No better way to go out.
Where to begin, where to begin... I guess no better place than the beginning, right?
So for the PMTC this week, we spent Monday to Thursday working at the Williams Hunt dealership in downtown Durban. It was...an interesting experience to say the least. I've been around Afrikaaners, Sothos, Tswanas, Zulus, and an occasional Xhosa, but this last week we've been around the French. And when I say French, I'm not talking about the ones from France. Remember Cam from Ferris Beuler's Day Off? "Pardon my French, but you're an @#$%!" Yeah, that French. Yoh, those guys know how to swear. And they loved asking me how many ethnicities I've broken the law of chastity with since coming to South Africa. Eish. But, we ended up learning lots and lots of good things about cars. Whereas a few years ago for mutual I found myself pouring motor all over the engine instead of into the right hole, today I'm the champion of changing oil. Hee yeah!
We were each assigned one of the technicians to work with for the week, and my guy was named Nash. Short for Nashir. It was kinda funny... On mission we have our babas and sons (trainers and trainees), and he was kind of like my baba at the dealership. By the end of the week he was calling me "my son" and "my boy" whenever he needed tools. We made a great team. Nash was the man though. He's a Muslim, and it's Ramadan right now, so they're fasting for a month straight. It's a little different than the way we fast. It's from sun up to sun down for the whole month. I was asking what the religious significance is, and I guess it's sort of a spiritual cleansing. Islam is cool. Nash's buddy was telling me about how they greet. "As-Salaam-Alaikum" is like hello, but it translates in Arabic to "may the peace of the Lord be upon you." The response is "Wa-Alaikum-as-Salaam," which means "and upon you peace." Islam really is a peaceful religion... And they make very nice food. It's just a shame that the extremists have given it a bad name.
But anyway, the dealership was fun. The last couple days Nash and I replaced an engine, so I'm no long as car illiterate as I was a week ago. He showed me this nice place to get bunny chow on the beach too. (Not like food for bunnies. A bunny chow is a Durban creation. It's like a quarter loaf of bread filled with curry. If you've been to Durban but you haven't had a bunny chow, you haven't been to Durban.) And at the end of the week, we got certificates for our efforts. Hurrah for Israel!
So during this whole time, we've still been missionaries (duh), so it's been on our minds to share the gospel with the people we've been working with. And now, I see why it's so difficult for members to share the gospel with their friends. When you're tracting or street contacting, you know you've got a short time to get your message across, so you just jump right into Jesus stuff. But with your friends or people you're around a lot. It's different, but I think in a good way. It doesn't really make sense to sales pitch them. So what do you do? As Greg Prince put it to me, "Be helpful to all, but force none." Be a friend, be as Christ-like as you can be, and if over the course of your relationship you see a need that the gospel can fill in their lives, offer to help. So that's what we did. Most of the guys there didn't have any interest in what we have to share, but I feel like we ended up really good friends with them by the end of the week. And maybe...just maybe, one day, the gospel will be able to bless them. Elder Poelman explained something to us called "the butterfly effect." The idea is that a butterfly flaps its wings in the Caribbean, and a couple weeks later a hurricane hits Florida. Essentially, it's the little things that make the biggest difference for good or for bad. Be excellent to everyone all the time, because you never know when your small acts of goodness will make a big difference later on down the road.
So that was fun. Yesterday we had our last little meeting as a PMTC group with the Z Man himself. He offered us a few pieces of wisdom. What he wanted to address is the fear that most missionaries have of being successful and effective in our returns home. He gave us three reasons why he knows we will. Number one, the Lord keeps his promises and will not forsake us. Number two, we've skills as missionaries that will benefit us the rest of our lives. Planning, talking to people, learning, being exuberant, etc. And number three, the practical role the Holy Ghost plays in our lives. Elder Ellis told us a story at zone conference about Elder Russell M. Nelson being helped by the Holy Ghost while performing a heart surgery. "The Holy Ghost knows heart surgery!" He'll be there to help us not only in spiritual things, but in temporal things too. President Zackrison is the man. There is no one else I'd rather have had as a mission president these last two years. What a blessing he's been to every single one of us missionaries.
The Rowberrys took us to dinner last night at a Chinese place. You know, since we're in Africa... Yoh, it was nice though.
And then that brings us to today. Looks like this'll be my last time emailing at this super sketchy email shop. (It's kind of like Vegas here... You can't really look up, down, left, or right because the other people here that aren't missionaries don't use their computers for the most wholesome of activities.) Gonna get one last haircut from my Indian friend. We've got our exit interviews this afternoon. And then it'll be time to pick up Baba and Mama Johnson from King Shaka International airport. Am I excited? Eh, just a little...
So that means this'll be the last of the emails too. I'll come with my stories to that Mormon church on Mountain Road in Fruit Heights on the 19th of this month at 9:00 AM. Don't expect food or anything after because I'll be sleeping for about a week straight. (OK, I guess there will actually be food... If you want me, though, I'll be asleep in the hammock in the backyard.)
Sizobonana maduze, abafana namantombazane.
(That was my name at the dealership all week. Happy Fourth of July!)