Posted by: elderleach | December 14, 2010

Teachin’ and Preachin’ to my Brotha’s and Sista’s‏

Hello my awesome family and friends. Hoe gaan dit? This week has been a great one, though the heat has been killing Elder Balmforth and I and there’s no way around it. I’ve been in several appointments this week where I have sweated so profusely (thanks to the 200% humidity) that I could wring out my shirt and fill up enough cups to start a lemonade stand. I just wouldn’t charge you for the drink.
 
Anyway, at least our teaching pool is high (one of the highest in the zone) and our companionship is rockin’. Transfer news will be proclaimed this evening or tomorrow morning and that is where I will yet again find out my fate: am I staying or going? It’s an intense feeling, and these days are always pretty unproductive due to the stress and worry that accompanies transfers.
 
May I share an experience that happened this week? I realize I have spoken very little about the people we teach, but that is recorded more in my journals and I don’t want to bore you with everyone’s history. But perhaps this experience will help you feel more connected with the people we meet here in South Africa.
 
On Tuesday, Elder Balmforth and I decided to do some tracting. Tracting is simply defined as knocking doors. It can sometimes be a strenuous, dangerous task, especially in this part of the world, but nonetheless that’s where all the good stories come from. 😉 The 3rd door we knocked on a frail, older woman answered and looked at us with a sour face.
 
“Hello ma’am, we’re missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints,” Elder Balmforth started. The whole time, I looked at him thinking, That’s my son! You go and get ’em! The old lady slowly walked outside, passed by us and took a seat behind us on the edge of her front porch. Oh I know you did not just deny my son! I said in a sassy accent in my head.
 
“I…am…the…church…” she mumbled in a thick Afrikaans accent.
 
“Verskoon my?” I asked, which is Afrikaans for “Excuse me?”
 
“Ek is die kirke,” she repeated, this time in her native tounge.
 
Elder Balmforth and I looked at each other and bit our lips, knowing a snort of laughter would erupt from either one of us at any moment. We tried to explain to her that Jesus is the church and that we must follow Him to find eternal life. She just kept repeating her statement about how the church is all about her, so we just bid her farewell and decided to use our time more wisely.
 
We approached a large home that was painted white with a bright, white driveway and a white vehicle parked thereon. Elder Balmforth and I looked at each other and figured we’d be welcome there considering the circumstances, so we went up to the door and knocked. A nice coloured woman answered and after we introduced ourselves she said,
 
“Perhaps you’d like to come inside and talk to the others in the back?” Not really sure what that meant, we said, “OK!” and stepped inside the home and followed her to the back. In this room were 5 women at tables with large sowing machines stitching up clothes or whatever you do with a sowing machine. We stood there at the front of the room just watching them, but feeling very awkward at the same time. A few of the women looked up and when they saw us they looked back down and went to work.
 
I cleared my throat and proceeded to *nervously* tell them who we were and what our mission was about. “Hi, I’m Elder Leach and this is Elder Bum–“
 
Balm!” he whispered. 
 
“–Balmforth and we are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.” Some of the women were looking at us, but the rest just kept going to work. Ok… I thought to myself. What now? Elder Balmforth and I then proceeded to preach. We stood there in front of 6 women preaching the message of the Restored Gospel, which at first didn’t attract their attention, but eventually they all stopped working and listened to us. The Spirit flooded the room and everyone was perfectly still. After Elder Balmforth and I were finished with our Alma and Amulek moment, we shared a scripture, being my favourite: Romans 8:35-39. We then passed out some pamphlets and told them where the church was.
 
Still, they sat there quietly and we continued to stand there awkwardly. Eventually we just complimented them on their work and left them with a word of prayer. After leaving Elder Balmforth and I felt so good about what was accomplished in there. “Hey, maybe not everyone in there understood what we said. Or maybe none of them will act on what we said. But you know what? Something was felt in that room and no doubt they felt it too.”
 
One’s testimony strengthens by the bearing of it. Growing up I listened to all these wonderful testimonies of the Gospel and how it changed their lives, but I never experienced that for myself. I guess you could say I floated on whatever boat passed by that looked good at the time. But while I’ve been on mission, I’ve seen my testimony develop its six pack and I can only hope it will get stronger from here.
 
I believe the Lord will hold us responsible for holding back what we know to be true. Take every opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. You don’t have to wear the cool black badge to do so!
 
Have a marvelous and safe week. Love,
Elder Matthew G. Leach
South Africa Cape Town Mission
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