Missionaries at War
My story is about the time I saved the life of a fellow Mormon missionary in South Africa. His name was Elder Garcia and his companion and attacker was Elder Nato, a Mormon missionary originating from Kenya. My companion's name was Elder Nielson. It was three white Americans and one Kenyan serving the Lord in a secluded area in the far northeast corner of South Africa.
Tensions were high the day before the incident because we had just received news that a close friend and fellow missionary had died in car accident. That next day, a fight broke out between Nato and Garcia over a dirty dishes. Up until this point, Nato and Garcia basically tolerated each other's presence and just counted the days until Nato's two-year mission came to an end.
As the yelling and cursing escalated, Nato exclaimed, "You wanna fight!? Let's do this like men!" He then let out a bone-chilling Masai war cry, pounded his fists and forehead against the concrete wall, and charged after Garcia. I somehow got in between the two of them which gave Garcia time to lock himself in a bathroom. Nato then went on a rampage. He punched through the front window, severely lacerating his hand, causing blood to be splattered everywhere. He threw a bicycle into the ceiling, upturned furniture, and attempted to bash in the bathroom door with a 25-pound dumbbell.
I frantically came up with a plan to save Garcia's life. When Nato came outside to confront Nielson, I snuck inside and took Garcia out the back door and around the side gate. I left him there until Nato went back inside at which point I ran for the car and Garcia ran to open the gate to our complex. Nato chased after Garcia onto the main road but I somehow managed to get the car in between them. Enraged by this barricade, Nato bashed in the entire right side of the front windshield. But Garcia was able to jump into the back seat and we sped away to safety.
Looking back (this was in 2008), I am amazed that I was able to make the critical decisions that saved the life of my friend. People ask me about the dangers of living in South Africa for two years. They assume the danger came from local criminals. Little did I or anyone else realize that my most dangerous encounter happened at the hands of a fellow missionary, serving the Lord.