Posted by: capetownelder | October 18, 2010

What Have You Done For Someone Today?

Goooood morning, cougs! Oh wait…I mean, Hallo family and friends for another episode of Paarl: Season 1. 🙂 Wat het jy vandag gedoen? That’s Afrikaans for: “What have you done today?” What a nice question to repeat over and over in my mind as I lie down each night. Wat het jy vandag gedoen? Anything at all? I’m wearing the name tag, but am I being the true representative I promised the Lord I would be? Maybe even a better question would be: “What have I done for someone today?”
 
It has been a trying week here in Paarl for really only one reason: laryngitis (is that how you spell it?) My voice is shot and my companion has to do most of the talking (he was a British accent, so I’m sure they’d much rather hear from him anyway ;)). Then again, he has been suffering tremendously with stomach cramps and diarrhea with a recent episode of food poisoning, so we’ve both been a little ill. We’ve been doing as much as we can, but we’ve also been doing a lot of resting which has helped quite a bit, actually.
 
A few days ago Elder Parry and I went with the senior couples (older husband and wife missionaries) to help some less active members of the church get involved with family history research. We struggled to find this certain man named Jacobus (Yah-kobus) who hasn’t been to church in quite a few years and drove around this vineyard/farm for nearly an hour trying to find his house. Finally we found it and a coloured woman opens her gate and wonders why we are there. After a brief introduction she lets us in and showed us to Jacobus’s room. 
 
We all walked in and beheld a tragic scene displaying Jacobus’s rapidly deteriorating state. He’s 80 years old, has no legs, can’t move his arms and can’t talk. His face was very wrinkled and his hair was a stringy black and gray. We had a Afrikaans fellowshipper with us who was able to translate for Jacobus’s caretaker and we learned that the reason why he was paralyzed was because of a massive stroke about a year ago. I’m not clear why they had to amputate his legs, but nonetheless he was bed ridden.
 
His eyes turned to me, then to Keagan, the fellowshipper, then to the senior couples. He looked as if he wanted to say something very badly, but just couldn’t. Elder Foster, one of the senior missionaries said: “Do you want a blessing?” He smiled very big and nodded his head slowly. Keagan gave him a blessing of comfort and endurance. After that special moment, Jacobus looked around the room at all of us standing there and tears fell from his face. His caretaker quickly grabbed a cloth and wiped his eyes. The biggest smile I have ever seen found its way across Jacobus’s face and though he couldn’t speak a word, you could literally feel his gratitude and reverence towards what just occurred.
 
This missionary experience as a whole has been such a fulfilling one and I don’t at all regret coming. People on the streets try to discourage us and tell us we are wasting our time, but oh! If only they could see what we see. I ran into a lady at a supermarket who asked, “Do you really think there are enough good people in the world to do missionary work?” I responded without hesitation, “Absolutely! That is our motivation to keep working.”
 
She then asked, “Really, though…you’re young, you have your life ahead of you…surely there must be something you’d rather be doing.”
 
I said, “Absolutely not. This is the least I can do.”
 
She was no doubt stunned and she responded with a smile and said, “Ah, well…that’s very sweet of you.”
 
I have been battling bouts of discouragement and disappointment, but I’m trying not to let it interfere with this experience. I love this work and I love what I have been called to do. Maybe if I could leave with a scripture:
 
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12)
 
Have a wonderful week everyone!!!!
 
Love,
Elder Matthew G. Leach

South Africa Cape Town Mission

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