Posted by: elderleach | April 25, 2010

Matt’s Mission: Why South Africa?

In two weeks, I’ll be gone! This is a bitter sweet moment, but it is time to leave the nest and forget myself in service.

Of the 365 LDS missions worldwide, I get called to serve in the “South Africa Cape Town Mission”. How are missions chosen? After the missionary candidate fills out some lenthy paperwork, prominent leaders of the LDS Church called General Authorities review the information along side a large map with all the missions displayed.

The rest is left up to inspiration. The missionary has no say in where he or she gets to serve for the next 1 1/2-2 years of their life.

My connection with Africa is a new, but profound one. John Mhando, my brother–but techinically foreign exchange student–from Tanzania, entered our home August 2008 and began his American journey. While some of the most basic things to us like calculators, eating utensils or even snow are taken for granted, to John it was all new. This was a great experience for not only him, but us as well! It was so cool to live vicariously through John.

After getting an honorary diploma from Central Kitsap High School and 100% attendance in our church’s early morning seminary (Bible study) program which requires students to be in class at 6:00 AM he returned home to Tanzania, Africa, which is located in the southeastern portion of the continent. It was sad to see him leave, but he had more schooling and goals to achieve in his native country.

Having been gone only 6 months, John called our house on December 29th and we talked for a few minutes. Though our conversation was brief, it has left an unforgettable impact on me. I started out by saying to him, “John, I’m filling out my mission papers! Wouldn’t it be so cool if I got called to Africa?”

After a brief pause he responded, “Oh Matthew, (he always calls me “Matthew”, never “Matt”. I think it’s because he found the formal version more polite? Who knows! ;)) I’ve been praying for you to come to Africa so you can experience the culture here. It is wonderful. You would love it!”

I started to think about what the chances were of actually having the opportunity to serve an African mission…and they weren’t high. Out of the 365 missions all over the world in every continent but Antarctica, 18 of them are in Africa. That left me with an 18 in 365 chance or a 4.9% chance of getting what I wanted.

However, when I said goodbye and hung up the phone I had an overwhelming feeling of love for Africa, but this was such a love as I had never before experienced. In fact, I ran downstairs and announced to my mom, “I’m going to Africa on my mission!” No doubt startled, she reminded me my mission papers weren’t even completed yet, so how could I possibly know? But I knew. I KNEW I was going to Africa.

There is no mission centered in Tanzania itself, though the Kenya Nairobi mission serves Tanzania. This is the mission call I expected to receive. I figured if I were going to get a mission call to Africa, it would be that one. So you can imagine my shock, but overmounting joy when I realized it was official—I was going to South Africa!!! It isn’t all too common that a missionary can admit he knew what part of the world he was going to be called to serve in before he got the official document.

So now we know the incredible back story, why South Africa? Why a mission? What is the purpose of a mission? Our message as missionaries is simply to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through words, but most importantly action. Service work/humanitarian aid is very much needed in South Africa and Namibia, so to make a difference by helping someone build a home, cut grass, or even play soccer and rugby with the African children who don’t have any other friends or family members to rely on will mean a lot.

I am excited you are coming along for the journey! Since I will not be able to access this blog while on the mission, my mom will keep this up to date weekly with letters, pictures and videos documenting my adventures (and misadventures!) while serving the beautiful people of South Africa and Namibia.

Take care everyone!!!!

Love,

Elder Leach

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Responses

  1. Its tough on the person who is leaving also….heck when i used to go to sleep away camps i would miss my parents so much! but it is most deffinetly hard for the parents


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