Posted by: elderleach | December 31, 2010

Boy, What a Christmas!

Well hello again! I hope everyone had a splendid Christmas season. I got to speak to my beloved family on the phone at about 4:00 PM my time, 6:00 AM their time…oops. Didn’t realize it was so early over there! Here’s what Christmas Eve was like:

 
CHRISTMAS EVE 2010
 
I woke up this morning sweaty and irritable. Sweaty because of the obnoxious heat, irritable because of a bad dream I had about me leaving the boarding at night alone and driving out to McDonald’s to eat something and then realized I was breaking a rule and would likely be sent home for doing so. Back to reality, I looked over at Elder Balmforth. Typically for the first 10 seconds of each morning we just stare at each other…not really thinking about anything in particular. This morning was no different. I said, “Good morning, sunshine. It’s Christmas Eve!” He rolled his eyes and turned over.
 
After a tired morning we went out, followed up on a few appointments and then realized everything was falling through. “At least we get to go to Romans Pizza for dinner tonight!” I exclaimed, and Elder Balmforth and I acted like two little girls waiting in intense anticipation to see Santa Claus at the mall…that is, until we drove up to Romans Pizza at 7:00 and observed that it was very much closed for the night. A scrooge-like dagger pierced our child-like hearts and we hung our heads in deep despair as we contemplated where we should have our Christmas Eve feast.
 
And then a light from above descended upon our sweaty, oily hardworking heads! “MCDONALDS!” we exclaimed. Then the dagger twisted into my heart some more after I remembered my horrific dream the night before. “Well hey, at least I’m with my companion this time!” I reasoned. We pulled into McDonalds (two Americans, mind you) and ordered medium meals with extra ketchup and sat down at our table.
 
“You know, I think I’ll remember this Christmas,” I thought to myself. “I’m here with my son in a McDonalds…America’s #1 staple restaurant during one of the most pivotal seasons of the year. What a joke!”
 
We indulged in our Big Mac’s, Chicken Burgers and Oreo McFlurry’s until our bellies were stuffed and we were ready to go back home. That night we slept safely and soundly in anticipation for what tomorrow would bring.
 
CHRISTMAS DAY 2010
The alarm went off and a wave of negative emotions overcame me and if the window were open and the alarm were in my hand, I would’ve thrown it as far as my skinny little arms would allow me. But then I realized the day it was and thought to myself, “Nope. Not on THIS day I won’t!” But I still laid there staring into empty space. I turned over and looked at Elder Balmforth. He immediately got up and opened his package from home, wasting no time at all. I laughed as I observed his child-like way of ripping into his stuff and treasuring every little thing inside. When the tears started coming, I figured that was my cue to pretend like I’m not watching him and open MY gifts.
 
Of course, I felt emotional too, so we decided it was time for us to open our gifts from each other and then move on with the morning. We had a lunch at 1:00 with a very special family, so we couldn’t miss it!
 
At 10:30 AM we stopped by a recent converts home…bad idea. They insisted on feeding us ham, broerwors (sausage), chicken, potato salad, green salad, raisin and rum ice cream (obviously non-alcoholic, people! And yes, it was vile) and some pink, gelatin concoction that made me question what horror movie this thick piece of sludge came out of. Luckily, it tasted lekker (fantastic). But there’s just one problem…we have a huge lunch at 1:00! We were finally able to leave and go to our next appointment at 11:30…
 
…bad idea. This member also fed us a mammoth of a chicken thigh and some delectable juice. By this time I felt stuffed to the brim.
 
We left these homes feeling sluggish and very well fed. We eventually pulled the car over and offered up a prayer that we might be able to finish the food that Sister La Vita, our lunch appointment, prepared for us at 4 in the morning! We arrived there and to our utter enjoyment, the food was lekker and we were able to get it all down. A Christmas miracle for us all!
 
And then the best of them all…the Christmas phone call home! I spoke to my family for about an hour and a half and boy was it ever a beautiful call. I loved hearing their voices and the things that have been happening since I left. Luckily, not much has happened (I hate missing out!) so things have been swell. My family sounds great and it’s hard to describe what 8 months of not talking to family feels like. Let’s just say I’m glad I only have 4 months left until I talk to them next (Mother’s Day…and yes, it IS 4 full months, not 5! ;))
 
So there it is. Christmas was great down here. People have treated us nicely and we have been extremely blessed. Let me just share my favourite Christmas scripture:
 
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” ~James 1:17
 
Have a Happy New Year everyone! Here comes 2011!!!
 
Love,
Elder Matthew G. Leach
South Africa Cape Town Mission
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