By Rod Johnson

Rodric believes Moroni included special instruction for Modern times and wants to share his unique perspective the same way Moroni shared in The Book of Mormon.

Street Contacting. Umtata's Square. Missionary Stories.

It was one of the hottest days that I could remember. Though it was February, it was the middle of summer in South Africa! Elders Thompson, Streadbeck, Danisa and I had left service for the field around noon.

The service we performed for the community was to count pills at one of the medicine dispensary in town. The field of which I speak is the proselytizing area. We were on our way to downtown Umtata to do some street contacting.

Right in the center of town is a courthouse. Any and everybody who is anybody passes through that courtyard on business—at least once a week. So of course, it is the best place to open our mouths to the public.

As usual, we four prayed and separated to do our work. We always made sure we remained in earshot of each other, but this particular day it was difficult. See, missionaries follow rules that protect them--like kidnapping or running off. It helps to keep the church out of the news because of the misbehavior of its representatives.

I really did not want to be out there. I hated street contacting as a new missionary. I just did not like what I called cold calling with two faces--my face to another person's face who might spit in mine!

"Excuse me sir, I am a missionary from the Church of...."

"I no English..."

"Excuse me Sir; I have a message from the Lord..."

"You are so young to teach me emfana (you man)."

I hate rejection. Those who did listen were not exactly ones I targeted. I recorded their names and weeded by inviting them to church. If they pitched up at church, we would teach. The ones whom would actually target and get to listen, I hesitated! I would never make an appointment to teach.

In this mode of discrimination, I found myself when I jolted at a sight. Here I was in a suit in the sweltering hot sun of South Africa when Maya Robinson, my estranged girlfriend walks up! At least that is who she reminded me of the moment I saw her. I spoke to her.

"Hello," She says” what are you doing out here?"

"I'm sharing a message about Jesus Christ,” I returned overcoming my amazement. I saw two gentlemen pass by who looked as if they would speak to me, but saw I was engaged with this young woman of marital age. Frustration began.

"That is good,' she continues.”I too and going about speaking of God and his word."

Deciding to make the best of this I say, "So what church do you belong to?"
"Jehovah’s Witness, I go to the Kingdom Hall"

Yes! I shouted within myself. If I tell her I'm a Mormon, she will run away in fear. "Really, I have an older brother in that church? I am a Mormon." She did not move.

“I attend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons.” Still she did not move.

“What church is that?” she returned interrogatively. She had a smile on her face and she keeps the sweat from her eyes with a white kerchief. I thought heavily of Maya and how much I missed her; but also on my mind were the dozens of potential priesthood holders passing me by as I explained things to this woman, who looked like the woman I loved!

See, we were in the habit of seeking out men with families to speak with so that we could introduce families to the gospel together. We targeted men because women tend to be more willing to seek out the missionaries.

Also, Jehovah's Witnesses tended to not appreciate Mormon Missionaries in the United States. Apparently, that was not the case there in the good old Republic of South Africa, RSA!

For some reason my companion had not rescued me. The rule is if the conversation went to long, that the other missionary would come and join the conversation or save the other from mobs, which Elder Thompson had to do several times for me. But He was engaged with someone also.

The purpose of this young woman was to convert me to her beliefs. I could tell after a few minutes. She and others of her faith were in the square competing for proselytes, and I was the enemy. Her whole purpose was to keep me occupied as the others sought out candidates when she found I rejected her beliefs. Eventually my companion rescued me.

“Elder Johnson, How come you did not end the conversation and move on,” asked the frustrated Elder Thompson. I had moved out of his eyesight during my interview with the South African Maya.

I shrugged it off and he never let me too far from his sight again. I think I may have mentioned to him later how much that lady looked like my "waiting for me unofficially" girlfriend Maya.

I learned that day that polite conversation is good, unless you are a missionary, and the person you speak to is a replica of the woman whom you left in the States missing severely!

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