Posted by: elderleach | November 5, 2010

Recap of the Last 6 Months: The Capacity to Love‏

Hoe gaan dit my family and friends?! It’s another day, another week and another month! It is now November, the month of being in the attitude of gratitude. I am so lucky to be as healthy, happy and devoted to missionary service as I was when I left my home at 3:30 in the morning on May 5th. On November 5th I will have reached my 6 month mark which has gone by very quickly for me, but according to my precious mother it has been an eternity. Luckily it isn’t.
 
These past 6 months I have learned much. I have learned how to be more sensitive to people’s feelings, how to better apply the scriptures to my life experiences, how to be more honest, how to better cope with emotional stress, how to drive a manual transmission, how to eat African food with my hands, how to laugh more and pout less, how to love more and despise less, how to understand the Lord’s will for me and not ask any questions, how to better conquer my selfish desires, how to be more mature, how to recognize what invites and takes away from the Spirit, how to teach more effectively, how to get from point A to point B with as little hair-pulling and tears as possible, how to eat food I’d normally turn away and run to the nearest garbage can for, how to resist my urge to check the weather, how to express patience and humility towards people who hate my guts, how to budget money…really, the list goes on, and on, and on, and on. Just imagine what my report of a YEAR will be like! 😉
 
This week has been a good one. It is the last week of the transfer (already!) and by the middle of next week I’ll know if I stay or go. Pretty intense stuff, but I’m trying to hold back the anticipation. Yesterday and Saturday I had the privilege to watch a General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints which proved invaluable to my current and future missionary service.
 
One person spoke about the importance of parents and the influence they have on their children. If there’s one value that is missing in this glorious country of South Africa, it is the basic family structure that keeps everyone together and on the right path. It is truly a tragic thing to behold: families are split apart, 12-13 year old girls are walking around with their second child, 7-8 year old kids are smoking and taking their first sips of alcohol, husbands are exercising abusive control over their wives and we as missionaries get caught in the middle of all the problems, for the people here look to us as marriage counselors or psychiatrists.
 
We are 19-21 year old ministers of the Lord, not doctors in psychiatry. I’ll sometimes look at these people, particularly one married couple who fought and pointed fingers at each other for the first 30 minutes of our appointment, and say: “I have absolutely no idea what it feels like to be cheated on. I have never smoked a cigarette or touched any alcoholic beverage. I have never participated in a damaging case of early/unexpected pregnancy. So personally, I cannot help you from that standpoint. But perhaps hearing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, someone who never sinned yet knows everything you’re going through in a deeply personal way, can help free you from the chains of sin and despair.”
 
When people accept that invitation, their lives begin to change. They realize all the lies and morally degrading behaviour that the world these days wholeheartedly supports and by so doing encourages them to follow the path of the Saviour which will in turn help them experience what is termed as a “mighty change of heart”. How thankful I am for my family, particularly my parents who, through their examples, helped me become the person I am today. They can tell you, I am very far from perfect and I didn’t necessarily make it the easiest for them to raise me, but through their patience, diligence, and strong Christian foundation this is where I find myself today: serving the Lord and His children in South Africa for 2 years.
 
I told my companion last night, “I honestly believe if my family lived in the days of covered wagons, my mother would be the person to sacrifice the bonnet on her head, the coat on her back and the shoes on her feet because of the love and selfless sacrifice she genuinely displays towards us her children. I also believe my father, through hole infested shoes and cold, chapped skin, would carry every one of his children on his back and in his arms to the promised land disregarding comfort or ideal situations.” If that doesn’t illustrate the way they have raised us kids, I don’t know what does. 
 
It has been hard to realize this isn’t the case everywhere. We go around not only sharing the message of hope and repentance to youth, but adults as well. It’s not too late to make an impression on your children. A little effort goes a long way. 
 
I am thankful for all of you and your prayers. I wish you all the most happiness and safety during this blessed time of year and I hope the New Years Resolutions you decide on this upcoming year will come to fruition.  
 
Love,
Elder Matthew G. Leach
South Africa Cape Town Mission
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