Posted by: elderleach | June 8, 2010

Our First Communication From Cape Town!

Hello mama and dada! That is what we call the mothers and fathers of the homes we visit 😉 So I am here!!!! Oh dear, this is MUCH better than I expected if you can believe it. The natural beauty here is just breath taking…few words can describe the gorgeous scenery and upbeat nature of the people here. Yesterday was my first full day, being a Sunday. I have decided to divide this letter into parts. HUMOROUS, SPIRITUAL and MISCILLANEOUS. So you can scroll through what you want to read 😉
 
HUMOROUS
 
1. Heathrow Airport
 
So, I landed in Heathrow airport a few days ago and manuevered well. Except for the minor issue that I left my scriptures on the plane! I was devastsed. Just devastated. I prayed sincerely for a miracle. I had been reading on my way to London about Jesus’s miracle of turning water into wine for his mother and on my shuttle to the terminal I said a silent prayer that I would have a smiliar miracle: I would open my backpack and discover my scriptures magically there!
 
I opened my backpack and…nada. The scriptures were not there. I really don’t know what I was expecting, but it was worth a shot. I got to the terminal and kept praying for a miracle. I had a sudden impression to talk to an airport security guy on my way through security and he told me to take the shuttle back to my original terminal and talk to American Airlines.
 
Long story short, 10 minutes later I arrive where I started and walked up to the AA desk and said, “Yeah, so I lost my scripture case on the airplane. How can I get that back?” I had a few weird looks, “Scripture case? What in the…?” But then a lady at a nearby desk said, “Oh, well I’m going on that plane right now to help board. I’ll take a look for you…”
 
What are the odds?! So she walked me to the gate and went on to the plane. She came out 10 minutes later and broke some news, “The cleaning guy on the plane refuses to give me your case,” she said. “He claims it is his and will not give it to me.” Amazed, I didn’t know what to say. She then got more security and they piled onto the plane and aparently ripped my scripture case out of this guy’s hands because moments later the lady gave them to me. Haha, oh wow…
 
Other than that, my plain ride was quite pleasant!
 
2. ADHD South African Kid at Church
 
Yesterday was my first full day and it was a Sunday! So I got to go to the Knysna (the name of my first town) branch which is a very small, heatless building with a maximum occupancy of about 50 people. We all sat on plastic playhouse-type chairs, white people on one side, black on the other. I wasn’t happy about that division, so I sat on the black side with my African brothas and sistas! 😉 It’s only right! We’re all one, correct?
 
Anyway, after sacrament meeting and being assigned a talk two weeks from now, we went to Sunday school. Now I am in a companionship with two others: Elders Austin and Maja. Elder Maja is from South Africa and is JUST LIKE JOHN in so many ways. He always says, “My man” and laughs just like him! Anyway, Elder Maja is in charge of Sunday school and asked me to help him as Elder Austin went in to help teach the new members.
 
In this Sunday School class there are 3 youth: one whose name I cannot pronounce, Benjamin and Dylan. Dylan has ADHD times 1,000! Not that this should make a difference, but he is white, just to let you know. Anyway, he kept hurling spitballs at everyone and Elder Maja was getting a little frustrated. So I told Dylan to give me his straw. He refused, and then hacked a lugi and spit on the straw. He then said, “Fine, take it” with a little bratty smile to accompany his threat.
 
He didn’t scare me. I grabbed the gunky straw with my hands and threw it away. He wasn’t expecting that! He was pretty well behaved the rest of the lesson 😉 I made him participate by writing certain key points on the chalk board in class and participating. I think Dylan likes me. I am not going to put up with him, and by now he knows that 😉 I gave him an American dollar at the end of church because I didn’t want it in my pocket any longer and he was just thrilled. Haha
 
3. The Fart—errr–First Lesson
 
I’ll talk about this a little more later on, but just briefly, we were teaching this adorable couple in a township about a mile or so from downtown Knysna and it was going so well. The Spirit was wrapping everyone in a warm blanket and just as I was about to finish my part of the lesson, Elder Maja farts. And it was one you could almost feel on the ground, that’s how powerful the tremor was. 😉 And let me tell you: he was mortified. His face just dropped and he scooted in a little farther on his chair and put his head down.
 
Me? I busted up laughing. Not kidding, I laughed!!! And the investigators sort of laughed too, but only because they couldn’t figure out why I was. I could hardly get through the rest of it, I was almost in tears. Aye aye aye, no good. But the couple looooved what we had to share with them and they were more than happy to have us back…thank goodness!
 
SPIRITUAL
 
1. Townships
 
Whew, on that note! There is such a strong spirit here in South Africa. My mission president, President Probst, is very business-like and has quite the authorative voice. He doesn’t look like he would, but he does! And boy is he as sharp as a tack. He told me my first area was going to be “Knysna” (nye-zna) and admitted, “It is the most beautiful part of the mission and will likely be your favourite”. It is 5 hours from Cape Town (that being the most beautiful city in the entire world, by the way) and is a pretty resort-like place. SO gorgeous…palm trees, warm, nice water…and townships! The best part!
 
So my first impression of the townships: Wow. Just wow. You have never seen anything like this, at least not in person…maybe in movies. It blew me away. The shacks are so humble, yet even then still classy. The African people are VERY classy. They dress so nicely, yet they have next to nothing. Children run around in the street, dogs run wild and sometimes attack, dust is everywhere…this is about what most people expect Africa to be like, quite honestly. I LOVE TOWNSHIPS more than anything right now.
 
Every lesson taught thus far has been in a township inside a shack. Some nicer than others. In the one where Elder Maja had his moment, I sat on the floor, all dirty and loving every minute of it. My first real lesson was with Lisa and Jarvis, husband and wife. Lisa had many questions about God and I explained to her how God is our Heavenly Father. I read to her 3 Nephi 14:9-11 and it just clicked. From there, she was so excited to learn more.
 
At the end of the lesson, she immediately said, touching her heart, “I believe. I—I just believe.” We asked her to pray as we were ready to leave, and she did. Afterwards she paused and apologized for not doing a good job.
 
“What?!” I said. “That was the most sincere prayer I have heard!” But she felt discoruraged because she didn’t believe she was good enough for her Father in Heaven. We asked her, “Well, how did you feel?” She paused and said, again holding her heart,
 
“I felt wonderful. There is something going on in here [pointing to her heart]. It is wonderful!”
 
And then Elder Maja farted. Yeah, can you say way to ruin a moment? haha just kidding 😉 =P
 
2. AFRICAN BEEBEES! OH GOODNESS!!!
 
Ok, mama. Did you know these beebees are THE CUTEST EVER? Elder Maja thinks it is just the funniest thing that I am obsessed with black babies. He says, “I see babies all the same!” And I responded, “Ah, but there’s just something special about these little ones!”
 
We taught a member named Leoni and her non-member mother Fiona. Fiona is a Jehovah’s Witness and Leoni was. Leoni has a one year old baby named Vinisha and she is the chubbiest, cutest little ball of joy in the world. I spent most of the time just playing with her. She would steal my pens and notebook and then give them back to me. She was oh so adorable! I wanted to just nibble on her gigantic cheeks, but that would be weird.
 
Anyway, we taught 1 Nephi 8 (the Tree of Life) and I explained the symbolism of the prophet Lehi’s dream by saying, “Leoni, you have been holding on to the iron rod and have partaken on that delicious fruit. I’m so happy for you.” Her mother looks at Leoni and starts speaking in Afrikaans to her. Leoni looks down, then up at me and says,
 
“My mother is concerned…she is not a member of our church and thinks she cannot ‘eat of the fruit’.”
 
I then learned her mother was a devout, baptized Jehovas Witness and she had two major concerns. 1) Can someone get baptized again? My answer was found in Acts 19 when Paul baptizes the people of Ephesus again because they were not baptized by the preisthood authority of God. She LOVED that scripture and became so happy. She turned to me and said,
 
“You know, you’re so close,”
 
I paused. What does she mean by that? So I asked, “What do you mean by that?” She responded,
 
“In my church, we are so good. We do so many wonderful things. But there is one thing that separates us from you…you have love.” I was taken aback. She continued, “I have met you missionaries for the first time, and all I feel is love.” I said, “Is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ love?” She nodded her head and smiled.
 
Let me just say, many times words just won’t cut it. Love breaks all barriers. I am so grateful she felt that, because I do love them very much…especially that little rollie pollie Vinisha! 😉
 
MISCELLANEOUS
 
So…I should wrap it up. I learned about half of the missionaries here are native Africans and do not have liscences. So I will likely be driving soon. They said I need to learn stick shift (on the left side of the road) eventually and I’m not sure how I feel about that. But I have prayed for peace and comfort. That and just knowing where things are in general. There are no addresses, so this will be quite the adventure!
 
Oh, and the first night I got in Knysna and into our apartment, the elders grabbed this blanket for me to use and opened it for me when all of a sudden hundreds of tiny cockroaches spilled out! We all screamed like girls and crushed them. So, they found another blanket for me to use 😉 Oh yeah…and the fleas are loving me right now!
 
I love you all so much. This place is such a glorious, magnificent chosen please and I want you to know how much God loves you, me and the ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS, HUMBLE AND GRACIOUS people of South Africa. Everyone I have met thus far always comments on my enthusiasm when I meet them. They think it is so funny 😉
 
LOVE YA!

Elder Matthew G. Leach
South Africa Cape Town Mission
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Responses

  1. It’s thrilling to hear of his experiences with the Spirit and how much love he feels for the people he’s been called to serve. Pretty wonderful!

  2. These blogs are wonderful to read. Phyllis said it best. I can only add that we are also blessed by your sharing of these experiences.

  3. Exceptional! Made my day.

  4. We are in for a treat if this is only the beginning.


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