So i don't think i ever told you all, but last Friday when we had to go to Dar with President for a district conference, with the problems at the airport from the fire that happened there on Wednesday we were delayed a bit...
We arrived at the airport just before 9 AM on Friday. Feeling fresh, crisp morning, ready to get to Dar es Salaam and get down to business. So we waited outside in a large mass of people who were also waiting to go. We discovered quickly that all these people were going to different places, but were all standing in the same place... and not moving... so we got an attendant to help us out with what was going on. She took our itinerary and returned 30 minutes later and said that they would call our flight soon. Awesome, we were thinking. So we stood outside... 10 AM..... 11 AM.... 12 PM..... and 12:30 hits and they call our flight!! :D so we stood in a line to go inside the very first security check! At 1:00PM we got through the security check, and then went to stand in line to get our boarding pass and check some luggage. Luckily, we got right up to the counter. The woman checks in one of the new Elders, Elder Steed. Boarding pass acquired, leaving in 2 hours (because of some delays). Then the next person in our group walks up to the counter and the attendant says, "Oh sorry, that was the last seat on this flight, since we had to take people from an earlier flight and put them on your." Alright, we thought, so when's the next flight? "I can give you boarding passes for... 10:30 tonight." ............. so we waited! And as we waited, I discovered that i had a horrible cold developing! In the airport! Yay! Hours passed... In the course of those hours, we met the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, i got a video of him passing and waving to me and him shaking Elder Mulondo's hand!!! We also had tons of gospel conversations with tons of different people, and met people from all over the world. One guy, my same age, from Zimbabwe, i noticed was reading the Bible. So i went over and sat by him and asked what he was reading and i ended up sharing the Restoration message with him, and he wants a BOM and wants to come to Church. We are still communicating. Bottom line is, we got on our plane at 11 PM. As we ate a small snack, i had some cold pills that are segmented for day and night. Well i figured that i could take the night ones, i just was worried i might be a little drowsy. I asked Sister Hicken if they make you drowsy, and she and President assured me they don't. Well I quickly found out that was not true. The plane took off from the airport at 12:30AM, and landed at about 1:30AM. As we went through customs and such, I was so drowsy it would have appeared i was drunk. I struggled to stay conscious and fairly normal as the customs guy questioned what i was doing in Tanzania. He must have just thought i had a few beers on the plane cuz he let me through. We arrived finally at the missionary flat where we were staying at 3:00AM, and i crashed. Needless to say, that was one for the journals.
But all was well, and i recovered fine, until an emergency made us to return to Dar yesterday. All went well at the airports, the emergency was taken care of because of the courage of missionaries and the Spirit guiding President Hicken, and we were able to get on our return flight the same day. While on the evening plane, President and Elder Mulondo had been issued seats right next to each other. For reasons that the Lord knew, i was given a seat 3 rows back next to strangers. A woman from Canada sat down next to me. Her name was Larissa, she was an environmental scientist living in Tanzania. She also happened to be an atheist. We talked alot about Tanzania and Kenya, about Swahili, about her job, and even about mine. As we talked about our beliefs, I did my best to share with her what I believed to be true. We talked about the Big Bang Theory (the actual theory, not the tv show), evolution, life after death, etc. I shared lots of Church doctrine with her and she really liked it alot. I was feeling pretty satisfied! Towards the end, I had a feeling that i better tell Larissa that I don't only BELIEVE that God lives and is there, but that i KNOW it for a fact. It felt like the only thing missing and this gospel conversation would be perfect. I hesitated, for fear that she would be offended. And that simple act of hesitation has hurt me since last night. It is our duty as Saints to testify boldly to the world of what we KNOW to be true. The gospel teachings and principles are not guesses, suggestions, or maybes. They are eternal truths. Thomas S. Monson, in his 2004 Priesthood session talk said, "A moral coward is one who is afraid to do what he thinks is right because others will disapprove or laugh. Remember that all men have their fears, but those who face their fears with dignity have courage as well." From that experience, I did learn a great lesson. First of all, it reaffirmed that God puts us places to learn lessons in ways we didn't expect. The other thing i learned is that we testify of what we know because it is true. We do what is right because it is TRULY what is right. By right, I mean that it was right pre-mortally, it is right now, and will be right forever. And if something is right in the eyes of God, we must never do that which is otherwise. We'll make mistakes, but Jesus Christ lovingly hugs us, tells us, "Get back on your feet and try harder. We're counting on you." We are forgiven and we become stronger. My goals from this are that I cannot compromise. The time is too late for that. We do what is right despite logic and reasoning and justification. It is my personal goal to be a man that can look my Priesthood leaders or my parents in the face and tell them I have done my best to do right. President Monson also said this:
"Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval."
"Someone has said that courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it. At times, courage is needed to rise from failure, to strive again."
And then this scripture basically sums it all up: “Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.” -D&C 107:99.
I'm not being too hard on myself (maybe a little), but i know that the things i have shared are true, and i know that God put me there to test me and teach me, both of which happened. I know God lives and i love Him. I know Jesus Christ lives and loves me. My greatest desire right now is to be humble and become one with Them. I love you all as always, and i wanted to share these feelings because they are important and real to me. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Love always, Conrad