Elder Allison is a very creative writer and he has written a description of a brief moment in the life of a missionary in Luanda, Angola. Enjoy!!
"I hear the little brown feet patter behind me as I lock the door to our house and I catch a glimpse of tattered clothes as the lock clicks into place. I stop for a moment and breath it all in - AFRICA! The moon rises over my shoulder as I stare up at the tree that reaches up for the sky. It's a new season and the heat is coming, tonight feels thick and humid, but to me it is paradise. I see the boys up ahead laughing as they pass a half deflated soccer ball between them, one of them runs along the side pushing a spare tire in front of him. His hands slap the tire continually to keep it from falling down. There is a certain grace that's required. I've tried this before and what he makes look simple is in reality quite a difficult feat to accomplish. How grateful I am to be here! This life and happiness seemed so beyond me before I came to Angola.
"We're walking now, my comp and me and our neighbors are cackling already. They've started early this time and I am sure there will be a lot more empty bottles before the night is over. I chuckle seeing their list of everything they sell from their house, anything you can shake a stick at and then some. The boys pushing the tire has fallen and is crying. His mother seems to materialize from thin air and she tenderly starts to wipe away his tears. I feel something stir within me. Here I have stood preaching the gospel for over a year and I feel a difference in how I see people as children of God and then treat them as such.
"Red sand crunches under our shoes as we turn the corner. I stop briefly to shake the hand of the boy now clasped in his mothers arms. He half heartily whispers, 'Chinese' and slowly tucks his face into his mother's protective embrace. I laugh and tell him that he is mistaken, in reality he is the one that is Chinese.
"We start to pick up the pace and the breeze picks up with us, it rushes through the newly sprouted leaves that hang overhead. The moonlight falls down and splashes upon a group of women up ahead. They are chatting about the latest soap opera. Women live for them here, even if they are incredibly seedy and more often than not filmed 30 years ago. The men however are a completely different story and as if to emphasize my point we come upon the local barbershop. The buzz of electric razors fill the air and a tiny ten inch television pumps out the color commentary for the nightly futebol game. Angola is playing tonight and if they win you can be assured there will be a mind numbing and eardrum shattering party to ensue. The fact that it is a Monday night does not even register. As we pass by I glance into the barbershop and it does not fail to disappoint. Plastered upon the walls are mugshots of every type of 'haircut' you could possibly get yourself. Proudly displayed are the graffiti that costs a measly three dollars to have buzzed into the side of your head. Buyers choice. I feel like it is a scene that belongs more to the Broncs of New York than to the streets of Luanda, Angola.
"We pass by and the racket from the barbershop blends into the background with the sound of cars up ahead blaring their horns in all of their annoying glory. The street is dark and it is hard to tell where you are going. The city still has not turned on the street side lights, that is if they even turn them on tonight. The only light is a harsh glare that comes from the headlights of the cars up at the end of the street. Our shadows loom large against the backdrop of crumbled walls and half built houses. Some lack roofs, others, lack everything, to be honest.
"Just before the street narrows I smell fresh popcorn and dodge through the growing crowd of young anxious children. Each is half patiently waiting for their turn to stuff a fifty cent bill into the vendor's hand and then run off to devour their winnings. Each of them is pursued closely by at least three of their so-called 'friends', if there is a more surefire test of true friendship I am not aware of it.
"We hit the main road and the evening race has already begun, romantic Brazilian lyrics leak out from the cantinas that litter the now darkened street. Sun scorched and covered in dust the street radiates out heat accumulated throughout the day. I feel sweat drip down my back as I climb into the taxi to whisk us off to our appointment. As the taxi slices through the traffic I sway to the music, I feel oddly at peace tonight as the taxi driver races ahead of two other cars. I feel like we are sharks cutting through a current of steel and smoke. As we get off the taxi the money-taker is already looking past me for his next mark. He briskly takes the money from my hands and roars off into the dusty night.
"It is cool as the air rakes our faces and pelts our face with the sand. It is everywhere and in everything, the sand that is. We square ourselves and walk down the winding roads and mud caked paths to our investigators house. We hop over mud puddles and listen as African music blasts down the street. The night goes quiet and my ears recognize before I do that the energy has gone out.
"We arrive at the sheet iron door and the resounding boom echos through the house. They greet us and are ready. The family night starts slowly, the man who conducts was the first group leader in Angola. His children are inactive and it is clear to see his desire for their return. A few other in-actives and investigators are with us as well. The room is dark, the rumble of generators surround the house. My companion seems to blend into the black of night. I love him to death. Elder Manuel, from Mozambique, is one of the most loving people I have ever met. We share a message of Joseph Smith and the room seems to glow and radiate, where there was once darkness there is now light, a light more felt than seen.
"My cup overfloweth and I feel my soul sing within me. This is home. How could I have ever loved a country and a people like I do now? The miracle of the mission I suppose. I know that the things we teach to be true and and as we return home in the clunky spot-welded-together taxi, I catch a vision of me returning home to my country of Canada and weeping at my home coming. Come, come ye and see a new Africa. The most beautiful heartfelt people in the world. There are no words to describe the love that is here, that they have for one another. I pray that we too may have the strength one day to love as they do. I know that the Lord lives and that he loves us. I am a a testimony to this truth. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."