In 1988, I requested the opportunity to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint. In December of that year, I was called by a prophet of God, Ezra Taft Benson, to serve in the South Africa Johannesburg Afrikaans speaking mission from March 1989 to April of 1991. It was very challenging and amazingly rewarding time in my life. I grew to love the people of that country. I cried like a baby the last day of my service. I was going to miss being a missionary, and miss the people of South Africa. Most I would never see again in this life.
What is Afrikaans? It is a form of Dutch. It was the Dutch and British that colonized the area. It is amazing how the history of South Africa parallels the United States. As the European settlers spread inland, they came in contact with African tribes. Some were hostile, and some were not. Ultimately the Europeans subdued most of the tribes in that area. The tribes also fought amongst themselves. The Dutch decided they didn’t want the British ruling over them so they had a war of independence called the Boer War which translated means farmers war. The Dutch mainly settled inland and the British on the coastal areas. There is a honored site near the capital city of Pretoria called the Voortrekker Monument. There are carvings of covered wagons, statues of men in buckskin clothes and long rifles, women in bonnet hats and full dresses. It would compliment any American western pioneer museum. Voortrekker means before-goer or before-walker…pioneer.
I lived at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah for two months while learning the language. We did have meal times, scripture study time, exercise time, but the large majority of the day was in classes learning the language and about what the culture of the country was like. Here is a sampling of some vocabulary words:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Die Kerk van Jesus Christus van heiliges van die Laaste Dag
Ouderling – Elder
How are you? – Hoe gaan dit?
Goodbye – totsiens
I am not interested. – Ek stel nie belang nie. (We heard this a lot while knocking on doors.)
Baptism by immersion – doop duer onderdompeling (under dunk)
Just as with other areas of my life, I can really not do full justice to all the people and experiences I had while there. The few stories I do share I hope will give you some understanding of what it was like. How can a really summarize and do justice to these two years. So many people contacted. So many people who listened to the gospel message. So many people drawing closer to Jesus Christ. So many people influencing my life. To borrow a phrase from The Book of Mormon…”I can not write a hundreth part.” What I do write I hope you will find valuable. If you are a person reading this who I came in contact with, and I don’t mention your name specifically, I am sorry. It doesn’t mean my experiences with you don’t hold a special place in my heart. It is simply that I cannot include them all.
Here is one memory of becoming connected with and the baptism of a lady by the name of Cheryl Cloete. When we knocked on her door and introduced ourselves as missionaries she said, “Oh, you belong to The Book of Mormon.” She had been given a copy of book before, had read it, had enjoyed it, but didn’t know what else to do. Well, we were, of course, willing to tell her what she could do next. She chose to be baptized. It wasn’t a quick process. There were some truths to ponder and accept, and some life changes to be made. The day before her baptism, the missionaries in our group went to the church to go through a “dry run” so she would know what to expect. While going through the motion of baptism, my companion tipped her back and her head struck the faucet that fills the font. No blood, but painful and a tender bump. The next morning she joked about bringing a helmet to the service, but decided that might not be appropriate.
Missionaries do not convert people to the gospel of Jesus Christ. God, through the Holy Ghost, does the converting. Missionaries are just there to share, to teach truth, to do things to invite the Holy Ghost to touch hearts, and strive to teach individuals what they can do on their own to invite the Holy Ghost into their lives. Tommy and Ilze Rothmann were and amazing, young couple. They enjoyed our meetings. They were spiritual and religious individuals. But, Tommy just wasn’t sure if changing religions was for them. We had several visits with them, and it was about getting to the point that if they didn’t choose to do more that we needed to move on as missionaries. One evening we were scheduled to share another lesson with them. Tommy said to us that he enjoyed our visits, but he would need to see a miracle, some kind of manifestation for him to change religions. Instead of sharing the lesson we had prepared we felt impressed to watch a movie called “What is Real.” Near the end of the movie music is playing, and the Saviors face appears on the screen, the lyrics say, “And when we see His face, what peace and joy we’ll feel. At the glory of Him, our hearts burn with in…” The movie concluded and we sat their in silence as the influence of the Holy Ghost was nearly palpable in the room. Tommy exclaimed, “Wow!” He got up, and rewound the movie to a bit before that picture came on…He watched it again. He began to cry. He said never before had he felt such a powerful yet peaceful feeling as he did in those moments when the Saviors face appeared. He recognized it as his miracle. He and his wife Ilze decided to be baptized shortly there after. Even now, twenty years later, as I type this story…my eyes well up with tears at the sweet, powerful memory of those moments with Tommy and Ilze.
Swaziland is an independent kingdom within the geography of South Africa. We had missionaries serving there. I had the opportunity to go into the country twice. Many, many families lived in make shift huts with one water faucet and bathroom area per about 10 to 20 families. Most were very poor. The prince who ruled the country chose a new bride to add to his collection each year during a ceremony called the reed dance. Missionaries tried to encourage young girls not to participate because part of it involved dancing topless.
Some of the foods that made and impression while in South Africa: We were offered Rooibos Tea every day multiple time. It is a delicious herbal tea and the plant it comes from only grows in that country. Boerewors (sausage) was a meat source staple. Curry, rice, and chicken were also frequent. At Pizza Hut in that country I had my first and last calamari pizza. It didn’t taste bad at all, a little chewy, in America they don’t put squid on pizza.
This is not about South Africa food, but one Christmas I received a memorable care package from Dad and Mom. Mind you, a box to a month or two on a boat to get to the country the affordable way. In October, she had gone to an LDS Church cannery and had canned homemade Christmas cookies: sugar cookies, no baked cookies, etc. When I opened the cans they tasted as if they had just been made. It was challenging, but I did the Christ like thing and shared them with my companion.
I had the chance to work in the mission office for several months. I would take incoming phone calls and forward them to the person who needed them. I handled the mail. Some was for the office itself, but because the missionaries moved around so much and it took awhile for the mail to travel, for all 100+ missionaries all the mail was sent to the office. Each day, I would go with my companion to the post office, pick up a bag of mail, sort it, put the correct address of where the missionary was serving and then take it back to the post office to go to them the next day. My companion mainly dealt with supplies if I remember right. Besides our duties, we were able to observe the inner workings of the office. It was inspiring to see how President Snow mixed his business leadership experience with inspiration to run the mission and respond to unexpected circumstances with revelation.
Michael and Audrey Koerber were very active in the branch before I and Elder Brandon Lewis were there. They were hosting branch activities at their house. Michael, at times, played the piano for priesthood. They loved the fellowship they felt with the members. They just had not had that witness that The Book of Mormon was true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and this was Jesus Christ’s restored church.
The Lord inspires the mission president as to which two missionaries should be companions. The opportunities for growth within each missionary can be the reason, the ability to touch lives in unique ways can be the reason. It was the bold and direct approach of Elder Lewis that made the connection for Michael Koerber. It was my quiet, reserved demeanor that connected with Audrey. The pivotal moment for their conversion took place on a family vacation. Michael had taken The Book of Mormon with him and was reading it by the seashore, and the Holy Ghost touched his heart. He knew it was true, and he knew he had to act. It wasn’t the many missionary lessons that had done it. It wasn’t sitting in church hearing. It was when he was alone on that beach that the Spirit impacted his heart. The Sunday before I left the mission field they were baptized in their swimming pool.
Michael and Audrey are the only people besides companions that I met in South Africa that I have seen since. He was a mining engineer. He and his family moved to Canada for his work. Their children are grown, and he and Audrey are now living in China.
Because of the political climate of the country, most of the missionary work was among the Caucasian population when I arrived. While there, Nelson Mandela was released from his 27 years in prison, and there was a cultural shift to the official abandonment of government supported apartheid. This allowed for more work to begin in the native populated black areas of the country. (Blacks were required by law to live in separate cities from the whites.) In my last where I served, Witbank, were only two adult black male priesthood holders. (By the way, Witbank can’t be found on a map any longer. The name was changed in 2006. Witbank was an Afrikaans word for the area. The name was changed to Emalahleni which is from an African Tribal language.) I and Elder Lewis had the opportunity to teach and baptize the first black sister. By the time I left we were baptizing every week. Most were adult, black males in their late teens or early twenties.
This chapter seems like an appropriate place to include my testimony about the spiritual side of life. I know their is a heaven, a realm of existence of finer matter that what we mortals can experience with our senses. A realm that is also outside our realm of current understanding of physics. I know there is a Father in Heaven. I know that the man called Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God. He lived, He died, and He lives today as a glorified resurrected being. He will return to earth again as a glorified being to claim what he created under the direction of His Father. God is a title of a being who has learned to live in harmony with celestial law. Through the atonement of Jesus the Christ all can overcome the effects of selfish sin and return to live with God.
I know that Joseph Smith Jr. was an instrument in God’s hands in beginning the restored gospel on the earth because truth and priesthood authority were lost because of the wickedness of men. Lucifer is real. He is an enemy to all things of celestial value. The Bible contains the word of God as far as it was translated correctly by unauthorized scribes and religious leaders. I know The Book of Mormon is an ancient text written and compiled by ancient prophets, found and translated by Joseph Smith. There are prophets and apostles on the earth today who direct God’s work with the same authority and truth as Peter, James, and John did as recorded in the New Testament.
I know families are the most important unit in the eternities. That in temples families can be bound forever if covenants are kept. I recognize The Proclamation on the Family as truth and and inspired document.
My parents were members of The Church of Jesus Christ before I was born. I am not a practicing member just because they were. I have studied the doctrines and precepts of other denominations, Christian and non-Christian, there is a great deal of truth in most, but not authority. They do preach principles of salvation, but without the complete picture they cannot teach principles of exaltation.
To those who made read this who doubt there is even a spiritual side to existence…Just as I have experienced and felt the laws of physics act upon my senses and the world around me….Just as strongly have I seen, felt, and witnessed spiritual aspects working in my life and the lives of others. I cannot deny this. I may not always be the best example of a celestial life, but I cannot deny the truth of what I have felt at the core of my being.
I share this testimony to be included with my life history as my eternal solemn witness. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
I was going to put the following items in a separate chapter, but here seems appropriate even though they are not directly connected with my missionary service.
Religious Ordinances, Priesthood Line of Authority, and Portions of Patriarchal Blessing
January 4, 1970 by Albert Reed Moosman at the Preston 3rd Ward, in the Oneida stake.
BAPTISM & CONFIRMATION
Both ordinances done on December 6, 1977 by Albert Reed Moosman
At the Preston, Idaho North Stake Center
AARONIC PRIESTHOOD each office ordained by Albert Reed Moosman
Deacon – December 13, 1981
Teacher – December 11, 1983
Priest – December 8, 1985
MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD each office ordained by Albert Reed Moosman
Elder – August 14, 1988
High Priest – February 16, 2003
This ordination was done in preparation to serve as 1st counselor in the bishopric in the Driggs, Idaho 2nd Ward; Driggs, Idaho Stake. Bishop – Wayne Egbert, 2nd Counselor – Meredith Wilson
February 25, 1989 in the Logan, Utah temple
May 7, 1992 in the Idaho Falls, Idaho temple to Marya Durtschi
PRIESTHOOD LINE OF AUTHORITY
Eric Reed Moosman was ordained an Elder on August 14, 1988 by Albert Reed Moosman(father)
Albert Reed Moosman was ordained an Elder on November 28, 1954 by Welborn Moosman(his father)
Welborn Moosman was ordained a High Priest on January 12, 1946 by Thomas E. McKay
Thomas E. McKay was ordained a High Priest on July, 26, 1908 by George F. Richards
George F. Richards was ordained a High Priest on April 9, 1906 by Joseph F. Smith
Joseph F. Smith was ordained a High Priest on July 1, 1866 by Brigham Young
Brigham Young was ordained a High Priest on Feb 14, 1835 by Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdrey, David Whitmer
Oliver Cowdrey was ordained to the Priesthood June 1829 by Peter, James, John
Peter, James, John were ordained Apostles during Biblical times by Jesus Christ, Son of God
This a summary of callings I have held as an adult in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after returning home from serving a full-time mission in the South Africa Johannesburg area.
Missionary Preparation Teacher, Orem, Utah
Teacher’s Quorum Adviser, Provo, Utah and Ririe, Idaho
(Our physical address was Rigby, but we were in the Ririe, Idaho stake.)
All of the following were in the Driggs, Idaho 2nd ward or Driggs, Idaho Stake
Elder’s Quorum Instructor
Elder’s Quorum President
1st Counselor in Bishopric
Sunday School Teacher for youth
Ward Membership Clerk
1st Counselor Stake Sunday School Presidency (2013-2015)
Priest Quorum Adviser (2015-2017)
Young Men’s President (2017-2018)
Substitute Ward Chorister (2019-
A patriarchal blessing is intended to be a personal life guide from the Lord to the individual receiving it. It is given by an individual who serves specifically as a Stake Patriarch. The blessing also declares a lineage of the House of Israel that the individual is part of as a direct blood line or adopted into as part of the covenant of baptism into the Lord’s church.
I received my blessing at the age of 16, on May 29, 1986
The Patriarch was Orval DeWain Robinson or the Preston, North Stake
My grandfather Leo Irving Byington was the clerk to the patriarch and typed up the text of my blessing from the audio recording done by the patriarch.
Because of the sacred nature of the blessing I will not record the whole thing here. Just portions. A relative can request the full text using The Church of Jesus Christ’s genealogy link.
I am of the lineage of Ephriam.
Seek the blessings of your father…
By sincere, humble prayer, honoring your Priesthood, your Father in Heaven shall increase your knowledge of the commandments of the Lord, and through humble prayer you shall receive spiritual direction for good throughout your life.
Honor your mother, seek her counsel…
You will have a desire to sustain the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as you do so your testimony will grow stronger and their blessings will enrich your life spiritually.
Set your goals and standards in accordance with the commandments of the Lord. Check them often to be sure you are measuring up.
Honor your priesthood and as you do so you will be blessed with all your righteous desires. Choose your friends wisely.
You will be given the blessing of missionary work at home which will change the lives of many for good in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the future you will…enter the holy temple of the Lord and have sealed to you a sweet daughter of the Lord as a companion and help-mate for time and all eternity.
No blessing will be yours you do not earn.
I bless you with a desire and a will to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and as you do so your sins will be forgiven you.