Wednesday, July 20, 2016

#105 "Souls & Sunsets"

Well I've been in South Africa for 733 consecutive days. I guess that constitutes two years of missionary service. They call it the best two years, or something like that.

Forgive me if I can't write anything worth reading. I've been up since two this morning sending out the referrals we've accumulated from the past week. Hundreds of souls prepared for the gospel, it's been monumental, yet horribly fatiguing. I'm a little bit groggy, but I think at least my shoes are on their correct feet. However I just realized I'm not wearing socks, but that's really nothing very new.  We've had unprecedented success this last week, and have seen the Lord's hand in South Africa. It's amazing that you can develop love for another being upon first glance. I'm not talking of the cheeky 'love at first sight', but a genuine desire for their heart and soul and eternal future to be happy. We went to all kinds of places this week, from dodgy taxi ranks to SDA services. From renowned university campuses to the poor and the rural. I accomplished my dream of contacting at Ghandi Square, which is right in the heart of Johannesburg CBD, next to the highest building in all of Africa, so that was pretty cool. Looked like a ghetto-Time square.

Anyways, as I'm sitting here on the hill behind the mission home, with my companion who's reading some book in my hammock, overlooking the deep valley which jets out from Roodepoort to Johannesburg, I feel a certain something tell me that I will always remember this place. It will always be hallowed and loved in my heart. I always just wonder if it's a better place because of me. And the answer is no. But I hope that it's a better place because I tried to show people Jesus. I've seen a few people here come to Him, and as a result, today they are more happy than they were yesterday. And I guess that's the important thing.

Africa may be the most beautiful story of the Restoration. Emerging and blossoming more vividly as the days go on. I'm convinced that the best people in the world live here. And I'm blessed to have been a part of their lives. I love the people of South Africa. I love them because they are children of my same Father. My brothers and my sisters. I love them so much, and I hope that some of them could see that.

But mostly I love God. Even though I don't really always understand Him, and rarely am I synchronized with his footsteps. Even though the Devil occasionally slips through the open window in the night and injects lethal portions of ratiocination into my brain that makes me miserable and logical and liberal and analytical and critical. 

But I love Him, because I've seen how he does lighten burdens, and if there are no miracles, it's because there is no faith. I can't bring myself to challenge that statement. Because it is true, and as the Author of the epistle to the Hebrews straightforwardly inscribed; 'Without Faith it is impossible to please God.'

I've learned to look to Him. And I've learned to love him, the best I can. Jesus is real, he fixes people’s lives; we read about it in the bible. But the cool thing is that he didn't stop with the Israelites or the Nephites. The reason that there are stories of people being helped, rescued, and healed by Jesus is to show us what he is still doing today through his Atonement.

Furthermore I've learned, and I believe that the same Jesus, with scars in His hands and feet; that same Jesus who walked on Galilee, and pieced together broken hearts; also, in the spring of 1820 appeared in a special grove of trees. And spoke with a 14 year old boy, named Joseph. 

Say what you may about Joseph Smith. It's mind-boggling and confusing to me too. But in examining his life and faults and weaknesses, you owe it to God to be fair enough to not resist the Spirit, and to consider the Book of Mormon, its origin and bringing about. 

God loves all people. Irrespective of race or nationality. Why would he not speak to more nations than one? If you believe in God, and if you believe that the only way to the Father is through the Savior; then why, in the soundest reason and simplest clarity; would God not speak to His other Sheep? Say what you want about Joseph, but hold back your judgement and pre-meditated conclusions until after you've seriously accounted for The Book of Mormon.

Alright. Well, I think that's about it. Weird that this is my last email. You guys can all feel free to come to my homecoming, it's on July 31st. I'd love to meet you guys and talk about your lives under a sky full of stars; and sleep in hammocks and build rope swings or whatever. Looking forward to seeing you all. Depressed that I'll have almost no one to speak isiZulu with. Stoked to see snow and mountains. But crying not to see lions and women carrying huge water jugs on their heads.

I love God. And I love Africa. And I love you guys too.

Elder Tanner Noah Clegg

see you in 3 hours mom 

Heavenly Father, are you really there?
and do you hear and answer every child's prayer?
some say that Heaven is far away
but I feel it close around me as I pray.
Tanner & his ending companion, Adam Swindlehurst, worked hard till the VERY end.

Greeting Tanner in the airport.  YAY!

Monday, July 4, 2016

#104 "Elder Clegg's Last Week On Mission"

I can't believe that we've made it here. It's surreal to think about. I'm not sure what to write, other than the fair-weathered knob of faith I was white-knuckling to stay afloat before my mission has been chiseled into a secure foot-hold. One that I can fall back on, and hold myself up with, even when the wind gets rigid, and the world grows cold. I now can say, independent of other sources or persons I could sight, and without artificial strains in my voice that I believe in a God in Heaven. I believe that He loves His children with a love incomprehensible. And the reason I say incomprehensible is because it is super hard for mortal minds to understand. We don't think the way God does, and He lets us do things that hurt and stretch and tear us down and make us crumble. Because He loves us, and the key of true love is being mindful of the ultimate goal, and the ultimate vista we all are striving to summit; Eternal life. God is a God, and God knows what it takes to be happy, because he is God. And he wants us to be happy, so He loves us enough to allow stuff to happen that will make us happy in Eternity. Simple I guess.

The next time I write, I'll be right after talking off to the airport to pick up my wonderful parents, who have been angels to me through this experience. I wouldn't have traded it for anything else. And at the end of it, after an accumulation of days and months and years, of seeing things and feeling things and experiencing things and going places I'd never thought I'd travel mentally and spiritually, and walking at times, seemingly through the heart of Hell itself, and summiting at times, glorious vistas that pierce through the veil between Earth and Heaven; I've come to some kind of realization, that God exists, and He loves us. And he does want us to be happy. 

There is a strange feeling: It's not the product of power-positive thinking, it's not a humanistic apparition of something that doesn't exist. It's not a chemical reaction within our flesh of the human mind conjuring up a fictitious reality and disposition; it’s the spirit of God, and it's real, and nothing on Earth can create the feeling of the Spirit. It’s God-evoked, and it cannot be faked. It can be misinterpretation and misunderstood, but it cannot be forged by any natural reaction of an aching brain, but it is from God. And I believe that. And that's why I believe. Because I FEEL stuff sometimes that all the intellect under heaven can't explain. And it's real.

I love you guys. I'll write one more email next week. I look forward to sprinting through this last week, and continuing to see the miracles like perhaps I never will again in my life. The best kind of miracles. Love you.

Tanner Noah Clegg